On Monday 2/17 my 8th grade Humanities class discussed the actions of the EXCOMM, President Kennedy’s elite circle of advisors during the Cuban Missile Crisis and reflected on how scary groupthink can be and how almost juvenile some of the advisors were acting. In the middle of the conversation, one of my 8th graders had an “AHA” moment. He explained how he saw the United States during the 20th century as going through the stages of adolescent development, starting with WWI. He didn’t completely finish his analogy, but he was excited at the connections he was making and later another teacher told me she heard a buzz from several boys talking about the theory in the hall between classes. Moments like this, makes our teacher hearts sing. When students stop memorizing information and start constructing their own meaning about what they are learning. It’s what Phil Schlechty means when he talks about “authentic engagement.” It’s the gold standard of schooling; it doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s so sweet!
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