Last night I went out for dinner and a show with a colleague, and we discussed how our students are 21st Century learners. Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard it before. I know, the students of today don’t learn like students 5 years ago, 10 years ago, or longer than that. I get it. But my friend mentioned something to me that really got me thinking. He is fortunate enough to be a technology-integrated classroom and have enough laptops for each child, so he aims to make his classroom as paperless as possible. I’ve heard him say this before and it hadn’t really occurred to me that, while I may not have the technology to completely support this, I understand why he avoids paper. Our students ARE NOT WORKSHEET learners!
I know a worksheet can go a long way, fill time, make work when there’s nothing else, yadda, yadda, yadda. But what does a worksheet really do? Kill thousands of trees, force our copy lady to go crazy, and use copious amounts of ink in the copy machine? Force our students into a confined box with only right or wrong answers? Make students believe that paper and pencil is the only way to learn?
Learning is SO much more than all of those things. Learning is predicting, discovering, exploring, and even making mistakes along the way to encounter something greater. So why are we still reverting back to the use of worksheets when we know that they will not get our students thinking critically, expressing artistically, or allowing anything but black and white answers.
I promised myself today to cut back on the use of these things because I can see they’re not really doing the trick anyway. So why waste paper, ink, or effort to do something that is confining as it is? I need to break the mold and try to be paperless myself.