Symbiotic Relationships

Ok many of you know that I am an ocean ecology nerd.  My lesson today focused on coral reefs and their symbiotic relationships.  This is probably my favorite lesson all year.  If focuses on the one ecosystem I have such a love for. Coral reefs.  Most organisms in the reef do not live alone yet live in symbiotic relationships.  That is when a plant and an animal cannot live with out the other. Coral reefs cannot live without algae.  Algae cannot live without coral.  Sea anemone cannot live without clown fish and clown fish cannot live without the anemone (think Nemo brushing before leaving home). With symbiosis if one dies so does the other.  This is what makes this ecosystem so delicate.

Ok so who cares right? What does this have to do with education? Well during the past few months I feel as though I have been up against students and parents thinking school and learning and teaching are a symbiotic relationship.  My students have this mindset that learning can only happen at school (this includes homework). They also think that learning must come from me (I have to tell them, not for them to discover on their own).

This mindset is so hard to change.  I have no idea of best ways to change it but through practice over and over.  I will admit I have seen a huge change from first of the year to now.  They are learning that life does not come in form of a study guide. They are slowly but surely seeing the benefits in the assignments I give them.  They are figuring it is not to keep them busy, it is not to entertain them, that it is for learning.  I still get the occasional “you did not teach us that” where I usually can point to an activity they did and they say “oh yeah.”  I hate that it took 6 months to get there.  I hope this idea is one will carry with them past my class. I hope other teachers help foster this as well.

The symbiotic relationship should be: Self and Learning.

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