Change the Currency

Here’s a really Big Bang for your buck.

I spent some time this winter back-reading all of Christopher Danielson’s blog. I was surprised at how often I said to myself, “Hey! I was just thinking about that!” Around the time I read this particular post  (I found the video very disturbing on so many levels. Consider yourself warned; it’s OK to skip it.), I was imagining a class culture in which all my students value learning. As much as I want this for them, I struggle with making my vision become reality.

Then it dawned on me.

What students value, what their school experiences have taught them really, really well to value, is grades (points, percents, extra credit, etc.), speed (first one done, first hand in the air), complete assignments (on time) and right answers. More accurately, students may or may not value these things personally, but they do know that these make up the currency of school, and some kids are rich and some are not.

My AHA: in order to create a culture of learning, I first need to change the currency. All of it. As Christopher wrote, “But really, if we change one thing we’ll be on our way to changing everything.”



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