What exactly is the purpose of school?

As many of you know, I participate in a twitter chat each morning at 5:30 called the #bfc530.  Each morning for 15 minutes we discuss one question.  Educators from all over the world join in.  I am so lucky to have this resource.  Often, the question leaves me pondering it for the rest of the day.  I can even lead into an assignment for my classroom.

On Friday, the question was, What do you think your students will say when asked what is the purpose of school?  Hmm….I really don’t know.  I would love for them to say things like it stimulates your brain and encourages you to learn. But then again, these are 8 year olds, who knows what they will say. I decided I would ask them.  It is alway tricky when you ask 8 year olds for their honest opinion.  They give it to you.  Honestly.  They don’t hold back. Ever.

So, with my breath held, I wrote this on the board.  “Write me a letter telling me what the purpose of school is.  Then write and tell me what the purpose of my classroom.”   I further explained..tell me why we go to school and then why we go to my classroom.

Most children wrote that the purpose of school is to learn. “The purpose of school is to learn so when you grow up you can tell your children things that they want to know or go to a good college.”

”I think the purpose of school is to learn because if you don’t learn maybe you could have problems with a lot of things like your job.”

”I think we go to school to because we need to be smart. Like if we go to college then get a job. How are we going to a get a job if we know nothing?”

This was my favorite answer:

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Here is another favorite:

 

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As far as my classroom, it seems like the majority of students thinks it is to learn and have fun.

”I go to Mrs. I.’s class to learn, have fun and explore.  I also go to her class to read.”

”I think the purpose of school is to learn and laugh at Mrs. I. Jokes.”

One of my students wrote, “I go to Mrs. I.’s class because one reason is because it is the class I was supposed to be in. Also the big humans in this class are nice.” (I always call my students short humans)

Many students commented on my relationship with my paraprofessional (a good friend of mine for 20 years and retired postal investigator now turned exceptional paraprofessional). “We need the classroom because it has walls so no one can hear us cracking up over a joke that Mrs. I. Made about Mr. Carroll being so naughty.”

This was one of my favorites:

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These letters all made me smile.  The students clearly appeared happy and see school as a fun place to learn and grow.  This warmed my heart.  With all the high stakes testing and pressure on teachers to improve test scores, my students still love learning.  These letters show me that they are happy to come to school every day.  I am grateful for that.  This is a special group of students and I am enjoying every minute of this school year.

 

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