Strategy 6: Give Students the Right to Choose
DOI link for Strategy 6: Give Students the Right to Choose
Strategy 6: Give Students the Right to Choose book
Most adults in the country have read enough research, watched enough infomercials, or visited the doctor enough times to know that exercise is important. Despite knowing that exercise is important, many people are still far too sedentary. Can you imagine how many more people would be inactive if the only way we were told we could get exercise was by playing basketball? The point of exercise, if you ask your doctor, is pretty clear: to elevate your heart rate for an extended period of time. It simply does not make sense to limit the choices for an activity that could lead to that end product. It does not make sense for exercise and it does not make sense for learning. There are some non-negotiable items that research indicates must be included in every unit of study. Every unit of study should teach content-rich vocabulary; be outcome-based with clearly-stated objectives, essential outcomes, or standards; and provide students with a level of cultural literacy so that when they leave school they are informed adults. Most educators can buy into all of that but struggle with cultural literacy and what exactly that means. When trying to picture cultural literacy, think of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno when they ask people on the street
who fought in the Civil War. When somebody responds, “New Jersey and New York,” that is a great example of not being culturally literate. Teachers do a great job doing all three of those things: teaching vocabulary, teaching to standards, and providing a level of cultural literacy to students. However, the issue is that far too often, students are allowed to learn in only one manner. So, just as elevating your heart rate for an extended period of time while using large muscle groups constitutes a good form of exercise, offering such exercise in only one form (playing basketball) will result in far fewer people who will actively engage in the activity. The key element is choice-it is just as necessary in education as it is in fitness. If we want to reach all students, we adults must be the ones to demonstrate flexibility, as opposed to expecting students to continually adapt to adult preferences.