“Tap dancing and farting”



The title comes from this great post by Chris Baker Understanding Without Design. Go read it now as it is a great post!

I want to respond to this post that I agree with 100%. The thing is, that although I agree with its philosophy, I don’t often teach like this. I plan out most things in my class from entry event to the culminating product. I already know most resources and workshops that I will do before we even start the project. I do allow plenty of time for research where students discover their own things on a given day and I love it when that happens.

So I guess that I am torn between what I believe and what I often practice. Somehow I feel like there must be some kind of nuanced balance between tap dancing and farting on the one hand and planning on the other hand. Left to themselves some students would do amazing things and others would waste time playing games or texting.

Sometimes what I believe about education seems utopian. Sometimes I feel like I am a prisoner to state standards that I am supposed to teach. Sometimes I wish I had the guts to teach a whole year without plans or curriculum. I know that students would learn and do some amazing things. I also know that we would “hit” most of the standards anyway. But I also fear that some students would slack and not do much. In the system that we work in there is no room for that kind of failure and I would be blamed for lack of structure.

So how do we balance planning with tap dancing?