The first week of Joyful Jubilant Learning 2006 witnessed several insightful and inspiring posts that have created a lot of discussion. Starbucker’s story about an unconventional professor named Brother George turned the conversation to teachers and mentors. Others (including me) chimed in that we also had teachers who used unconventional teaching styles to achieve dramatic results for their students.
Brother George … very methodically and calmly introduced the class and its importance to our degree and our future careers in accounting, and then added this kicker: he graded on a bell curve, so a certain percentage of us will fail the course. That got my attention. He also talked about his testing format, that was the most unique I had ever seen (before or since).
I also recently read about Elizabeth Granger, the Lawrence Central High School educator and freelance journalist who was named the best high school newspaper adviser in the country for the second year in a row! Not only does Granger excel at teaching journalism, she uses an unconventional style to teach teamwork as well.
She said the Cub Reporter staff has about 18 students, not counting stringers, who take a newspaper class and devote after-school hours to chasing down leads and writing stories. She said teamwork is critical to meeting deadlines.
She emphasizes that message by requiring her students to take notes for quizzes, then swapping notebooks so that each student relies on another student’s notes for the correct answers.
What a great lesson this is for high school students! For many of us, high school and college were primarily exercises in independent learning and knowledge acquisition (not to mention partying). While some assignments required students to work in groups, test and final grades typically resulted from individual efforts.
In contrast, Granger’s students are learning that their success depends on the success and performance of their classmates. Imagine how well prepared they will be for the business world where reliance on team members is essential.
It is a true gift when people like Brother George and Elizabeth Granger dedicate themselves to being unconventional, and in the process, change the lives of their students for the better.