I recently saw “Mary Poppins Returns” with my family, and it got my mind all revved up!I was skeptical at first, being a very true and committed fan of Julie Andrews and DickVan Dyke, but it was so fantastic! Also, many of Mary’s quotes, sayings, andmannerisms moved my mind into fast gear with comparisons of the #EduWorld.Without being a spoiler, I’ll stick to some quotes, and why I think we, as educatorscan learn a few things from our umbrella wielding British nanny.
“YOU’VE FORGOTTEN WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A CHILD” – This, to me, has becomean epidemic in education today. Not only have most adults forgotten what being a childis like, but, many I would argue, ever had a childhood! (I’m kidding, but you get the gist). The lack of play, laughing, fun, excitement and joy throughout classrooms and school yards is shocking. Not only in the schools I’ve worked in, but from what I read about daily across the country – is mind blowing. Compliance. Strict Rules. Unnecessary Homework. Reading for Fun. Lack of PE. Minimal Recess. Teachers not engaging in the lessons and play with students. The list goes on and on.Maybe as a prerequisite to our new teacher programs there should be a class called“Bring Back Fun into the School 101”. This class could focus on how to be childlike.Game playing. Laughing. Joke Telling. Lessons with Kindness embedded.I mean, come on my friends. Do the people that write the syllabus’ and scripts forthese programs do any research about what engages kids? What the job skill setwill be in the next 5 years? How important Educator passion is? Let’s rethink ourobjectives that new educators need to bring into a classroom, and in my view,memories of a childhood is one.
“FOR WHEN YOU DREAM, YOU’LL FIND ALL THAT’S LOST, IS FOUND.” – Whilemany things in education have been tossed, lost, forgotten and reiterated, there are some things that perhaps should not have gone away.1. Reading Instruction: Where has it gone? In early 1955, Rudolf Flesch penned “Why Johnny Can’t Read: And What You Can Do About It”. This book not only taught us the “look-say” method, but it inspired Dr. Seuss to write “The Cat in the Hat”. Most schools do very little in the way of phonics, decoding, fluency, letters, sounds, blending, and actual reading instruction, which in turn, has also lessened our focus on fun, recreational, and pleasure reading! In May of this year, education writer at Forbes, Natalie Wexler wrote a follow-up article to Mr. Flesch’s called “Why Johnny Still Can’t Read — And What To Do About It”. Check it out, I highly encourage you. Not all students are going to be great readers, writers, or Literature Professors, but reading is still a lifelong skill.2. Coding – Why is this not a mandated course in every Elementary School? And Why aren’t doing this daily in every school? This is a disservice to our youngsters. Not every child will become a programmer, but coding has so many benefits: It is shown to help with creativity, math, communication, writing, and confidence. Jobs such as; Game developers, engineers, web developers, McDonald’s cashiers, Hospitals, Magazines, Retailers, and many more require knowledge of coding. Why do some schools only use “Hour of Code” for students to access this opportunity? There are so many easy, fun, and applicable platforms that make it seamless to bring into classrooms today! Code.org, khanacademy.org, CodeAcademy.com, Codeavengers.com, and hundreds more! How can we NOT be doing this?3. Physical Education – Ok, I get it. There is just not enough time for PE. Wait, are you kidding? Have you seen some of our youngsters lately across the U.S.A? The last time I checked the US was about 10th in overall obesity rates for children under the age of 18. Not only is exercise what each child (yes, through High School!) needs, but it is a must for them to live a longer life. Not that each child will be the next Olympic, LPGA, NFL, NBA, MLB, WNBA, or NCAA star, most of today’s children just don’t move enough. This lack of activity leads can lead to not only many health concerns (High blood pressure (hypertension), Type 2 diabetes, Coronary heart disease, Stroke, Osteoarthritis, Endometrial, breast, colon, kidney, gallbladder and liver cancer. Mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety. Exercise does reduce stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, depression, and can increase; stamina, mindfulness and focus to name a few. I am fortunate to work in a school district where Physical Education is a 3x per week class, and outdoor play is highly encourage. While I’d love to see PE daily in Elementary schools, there are some places that do absolutely none. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Can you believe it? How are these students supposed to sit still in class? (other than compelling and highly engaging lesson design). Our kids not only deserve it, they NEED it!
I’ll leave you with this last quote from our lovely friend (btw Emily Blunt crushes her new role, for the early naysayers) “ IN EVERY JOB THAT MUST BE DONE, THERE ISAN ELEMENT OF FUN.” – Please. Remember you why. Your passion. Your mission.Your drive. If we just add a little more Mary Poppins to our day, not only would theworld be a better place, but our students would undoubtedly thrive as well.