May 2, 2008
Inquiry in Education: The Work with Eight Graders
In April, I presented The Work to six classes of eight-grade earth science students at a local middle school—about 180 young "inquirers" in all, plus visits from a language arts teacher and the superintendent. The students are using The Work if they choose to, along with other attention-focusing tools (including breathing and meditation), as part of their inquiry process for a 21-day fourth-quarter project called "Random Acts of Kindness," during which they explore and track what keeps them from being kind to themselves, others, and the planet. We identified common beliefs about family, school, and friends, along with universal thoughts like, "What I do doesn't matter," and used the Yellow Card to question their thoughts. Their teacher created a rubric for them to record their experiences.
From where I sat, interest was mixed; some kids really got into it, others were neutral, others rebellious. (Pretty typical for 13-14 year olds, I'd say.) According to their teacher, they got into it more when she reviewed the process with them the next day, and showed them how to use it with their assignment.
Naturally, a couple of the students immediately began to tease their teacher with "Is it true?" :-)
I think it's fair to say that I was the one who needed this curriculum the most; I have been picking up trash in the street like crazy since discussing with the students thoughts that keep us from picking up trash. "I didn't put it there." "It's not my job." "I'm too lazy." "It won't make a difference."
I'll keep you posted about any feedback I get from the students.
©2008 by Carol L. Skolnick; all rights reserved.