Most writers have Day Jobs, and I am no exception. I will retire next year, with 21 years of teaching under my belt, and although I’m looking forward to having the time to write full-time, I have not lost my passion for teaching. Being around 12-year olds reminds me to really see.
I love this time of year with the kids at school. Yes, it’s test-taking time, which we all hate, but it’s also our annual Independent Research Project time! With only a little refinement from me, the kids get to choose their own research question and present their findings creatively. Without guidance, kids are not sure where to start. Because of their limited life experience, they don’t know what questions to ask and can’t always see the numerous possibilities, so over a period of a few weeks, I throw things out there for them to consider. Just whatever comes up in the news or our daily lives.
Recently, on a trip to attend a family funeral up in Sacramento, I picked up a Discovery science magazine at the airport. I shared my own enthusiasm about the marvelous discoveries being made and how the world is just waiting for them to grow up and get out there – that not everything has been discovered and recorded – the world needs them and they need the world.
After sharing a few quotes from each article, kids were fighting over who got it first, and with it, the privilege of learning about CRISPR gene editing, Einstein’s thought experiments, or space travel. Love my 6th graders’ enthusiasm!
Some of their research question ideas so far:
What is Art? When did Art start?
What makes color? Have we discovered all the colors?
Will there ever be world peace?
Is Democracy the best form of government?
What is the healthiest vegetable to grow in our school garden? Is organic better?
How large a garden do you need to feed a family of 5?
What caused World War II?
What will school look like in 2050?
How do prosthetics work?
I firmly believe that in order to be a writer, you have to maintain that kind of enthusiasm about the world. So here’s my advice of the day:
Go Forth & See the World Through a Child’s Eyes!