Today a student told me that I was the only teacher that tried to "break" them.
I almost cried.
It was possibly the best compliment I've ever gotten from a student.
You see, I've been trying my whole teaching career to "break" students from the mold of rote memorization and fill in the bubble education. I have strong opinions about standardized testing and the thought that we are teaching our students that failure is always a bad thing (how are we expecting them to learn?!)
So today while I was introducing my students to a 20% time project, they were simultaneously excited and overwhelmed by the opportunity. When they complained that it was too open (again, how have we gotten to a point in education where open thinking is bad?) and they needed "guidelines", I reminded them that the point of this type of project was to break those habits and to learn to think for themselves.
And then one of my seniors, who I've taught now 5 semesters, said "You are the ONLY teacher here that tries to break us." She continued on to say that the other teachers they have are always concerned with them doing things the "right way", with no freedom. It's comforting and easy, but they don't learn as much (about themselves anyway).
Why are we so concerned with students doing things "our way"? Is there such a thing as the right way? And if there is, why can't they figure it out for themselves?
I would rather think that we are creating a generation of "broken" students who can think for themselves and face the problems of our future. And knowing that my students are recognizing it and still jumping in enthusiastically... well, I guess I'll just keep "breaking" them.