Life Changing

I told the Yahtzee story in this blog a couple of months ago, but I’ve been reading stories in other blogs about students who came back to say that they were profoundly affected by a particular classroom activity.

I especially liked this one from Agnes Tirrito: The Power to Change a Life.

So I’ll ask you the question on the post card: What activities have changed the life of one of your students? 

This postcard is one of a series produced at “So What? Reflections on Research in Practice,” a RiPAL-BC Gathering held in Vancouver, 2008. Its purpose was to reflect on the impact of research in practice in adult literacy (RiPAL) on the field, on practitioners’ work, and on learners’ experiences.

6 thoughts on “Life Changing

  1. I wish I had such a story, but alas, I do not. I’ve had a few students come back to thank me for teaching them well, because they found in college the courses they took were easier than it was for their peers. “It’s like a review course,” one student told me, proudly, of her college physiology class. “I’m making an A!” Teens are less likely to admit life-changing experiences until later in life, I think, and I’ve only been teaching 7 years. I’ll take what I can get and hope someday to have a story.

  2. Good to have a comment by barbara – I have trouble transferring stories about changing a child’s life and changing a battered adult’s. I think primary teachers have glorious opportunities – I know they also have a hell of a job and a lot of things in their way – but nonetheless children are more open to being thrilled! – But you have to go fishing often for moments that adults have experienced- they are usually much more hardened in their cynicism and legitimately. I think part of why the Yahtzee story happened is that the game was so far from anything she’d ever experienced and so neutral. What do you think?

    • I think the Yahtzee was so successful because she and her husband were looking for something that would get them on the same wavelength around helping the children. Also, she had never played Yahtzee, but had seen others play it (either in person or on TV, I don’t remember) so she was intrigued to get into the in-group who knew how to play. And, as you say, it didn’t seem like any math she had ever done.
      On the other hand, the positive atmosphere of the math group, the opportunity to be coached as she learned to play, the gift of the set of dice and score cards to take home–all of those were necessary, and provided by the school.
      As for your more general point, that it is harder to do something that changes an adult’s life, I think I would disagree, although I see what you mean. I think our students are often surprised by themselves when they come back to school. Their experiences when they were kids often mean that they see our programs as a barrier to getting a good job, another hoop to jump through, but sometimes they find out that they love English, or they are good at math, or that they like learning and studying for its own sake, not just as a means to another end. And that I think is life changing.
      I remember a student giving a speech about her ABE experience who said, tears in her voice, “I learned I was teachable.” That was a life changer.

  3. A student told me I had changed her life.

    I was a teaching assistant for a first year sociology course. About one third of my students were there compulsorily as part of their training as dental hygiene students. Teaching students who don’t want to be there things they think they don’t need to know is always a challenge.

    In this case, I assigned a ‘sociology journal’ designed to improve students’ observations about the social world. But of course many students wrote much more of a personal journal.

    This student, in particular, wrote an account of being very attracted to and compatible with a wonderful man, but didn’t know if she could ever be with him because he had bad teeth.

    The line I wrote in the margin? The one that changed her life?

    “Life does not revolve around a toothbrush”.

    It is never possible to know where our words land or what effect they will have, for good or bad.

love to hear your ideas or experiences!

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