We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: A Tale of the Modern Classroom

One of my students was frustrated today with a question on an open notebook quiz she was taking. The problem was that the answer was not in her notes (she is great about taking thorough notes). We are studying the start of World War I and the question was “How could a dispute between the Triple Alliance and the Triple Entente draw all of Europe into a conflict?” She was hesitant to answer the question. For the sake of this reflection, her name is Dorothy.

Dorothy wanted an answer from the authority, which, in this case, was our textbook. When she found that the answer was not there, she set out on an adventure to find the answer.

Along the way, she met another student on a similar journey. She met Scarecrow out in the hall. He was having an issue on a science lab. He was not sure if his data was accurate. While he had done the lab, he believed that there must be something wrong! How could he be expected to do it right! He was just a student.

To move this story along, the two of them met up with the Cowardly Lion and the Tin Man. The Cowardly Lion was afraid to present to his class so he took an extended bathroom break and, let’s say The Tin Man was hesitant to complete a community service project because he did not think he could connect with the elderly who he had to play bingo with.

The four of them ended back up to my classroom in search for answers – an easy fix to their problems. I was the Wizard, you know. I know all.

Except that I don’t. The truth is, while I occasionally attempt to be the all-powerful Wizard of Oz, I am not. And I shouldn’t be.

My role is not to give the answers but to show students how they can find them. I’m the man behind the curtain – just this guy, ya know.

So I sat with Dorothy and we talked about what alliances are comparing them to her friends and what would happen if her friend got into a fight with another “clique.” Her eyes widened when she understood the situation and she answered the question on her own.

In the end, I am sure Dorothy will have more questions – but I hope that she trusts herself to realize that she is capable is deeper thinking. Because she really did have the power all along.

As for the Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow – I trust that my colleagues are working with them to get over their fears and they begin to build skills that will make them successful in their pursuits.

About Michael K. Milton

I teach students Social Studies at Burlington High School. When I became a teacher, I believed that students would frequently give me apples. This has not happened (not even a Red Delicious ~ a name which is a misnomer). However, my school has given me a MacBook Pro and an iPad in an effort to right this wrong (I assume). I'm very lucky to work in a 1:1 school.
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3 Responses to We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: A Tale of the Modern Classroom

  1. Rachel Small says:

    You are hilarious! I love reading your writing.

    This is such an important concept that I wish more administrators, teachers, school board members and parents would appreciate: “My role is not to give the answers but to show students how they can find them. I’m the man behind the curtain.”

    It will happen, one day!

  2. Pingback: Going Meta: Cataloguing My Past Two Years of Blogging | Michael K. Milton ~ @42ThinkDeep

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