Sunday, June 3, 2001

Encouraging Students to Be Mischievous

Jonathan, a student in my above average class, takes everything very seriously. He tries to be perfect. He rarely smiles and always has a worried look on his face. MiJun also is very serious and focused,

Last week I assigned a project where students were allowed to work in pairs. I heard Jonathan ask MiJun if she would like to work with him. I knew I could depend on them to do a good job.

As I walked around the room checking on student progress, my attention was drawn to Jonathan's laughter. Not only was he laughing but it was escalating uncontrollably. And MiJun was smiling in spite of her obvious attempts not to do so. I was not worried about these two becoming unruly, but I was very curious about the cause of the laughter. When asked, Jonathan explained that something MiJun wrote was very funny. Students, at the end of their "book," had to write a brief bio of themselves for the book jacket. Apparently MiJun had written something humorous. She didn't want to show it to me and seemed embarrassed and I didn't insist. A few minutes later, Jonathan brought it over to me to share. He was still laughing. I read it and laughed also. MiJun showed a good sense of humor.

I wound up telling both of them that I was very pleased that they had done something "sort of mischievous." I told them that they are both such serious students that I sometimes worry about their ability to have fun. I also told MiJun that I thought she was good for Jonathan because he doesn't smile enough and that it made me very happy to see them both smiling.

So...a glimpse at an infrequent teaching experience.

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