180 days of learning

180 days of learning

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Starting the Fire

December 7, 2012

The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.


Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

William Butler Yeats

As you watch the video above, realize you are not seeing a group of kids doing a work sheet.  As you watch the video above, realize you are not watching me lecture.  As you watch the video above, understand this in not a group of bored children. As you watch the video above, realize that you are seeing real learning taking place.  As you watch the video above, try to comprehend the fire of understanding sweeping my room.  As you watch the video above, understand my joy to see my kids creating, evaluating, and responding to a message they did not receive from me and that I could not effectively convey.

I re-posted the message of Justin Strudler (@justinstrudler) in a blog post entitled, “I must be lazy.”  I asked my kids to simply read his message and if they felt so compelled, to respond.  On their own they began a dialogue in the comments, which eventually included Justin himself.  Other bloggers have began to comment and share.  We also watched a video entitled, “Why I love education but Hate School.” We talked about the stereotype that learning must occur in our four walls.

Now some people would ask, “Why is a science class talking about being lazy and hating school?”  I have students everyday that can not comprehend college, or life beyond tomorrow.  They need to know that education is about more than the “place all the teachers tell me I have to go today and someday.”  I watched the spark of understanding spread like wildfire around my room.  I watched the importance of communicating take on meaning beyond the person beside them or even across the room.  As students learned Justin was from Long Island, NY their conversations began to change.  I heard the statement, “I didn’t know other kids felt like me” and, “I thought high school and college were supposed to be fun.”  I had students ask if they could email him to ask him how he dealt with a  school that did not understand him.  As a teacher, my job is to light a fire of learning.  I think we all forget sometimes that a fire burns its own path, refining as it goes. If we do not examine the way we educate, how can we ever know that we have helped a student to learn. I leave  you with a quote from one of my kids who understands that not every kid learns the same way. I could not be prouder.

“This kid isn’t lazy he just has different ways to learn. He doesn’t like school like some people do because to him it’s probably just a place to go and all you do is sit in class and do nothing. Some people like school but he doesn’t. That’s his only problem and it’s not even a problem.” Samuel Carrol

In everyone’s life, at sometime, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.

Albert Schweitzer

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.


I am a learner, facilitator, father, friend, and coach.  Don’t you dare just label me a teacher.

Joshua Winrotte
7th Grade Science
Lincoln Junior High


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