“Packets” & The Appearance Of Teacher Apathy
If you haven’t seen the viral video by now, above you’ll find Jeff Bliss, a Texas high school student, argue against packets and get thrown out of class–and this being 2013, the whole thing was caught by a classmate and posted to YouTube.
But what makes the video more interesting than the average “get out” video is the passionate–and incredibly articulate and almost always respectful–response Bliss volunteers before leaving the classroom.
The video is easy to characterize depending on your perspective: hero to rebellious students, or video evidence of the challenge of reaching America’s youth in K-12 classrooms nationwide. It’s impossible to know what’s happening in that 90 seconds of video without knowing the full picture.
Impossible to miss is a fundamental disconnect between teachers, students, and curriculum that can be difficult to bridge when schools, increasingly under pressure to “perform,” reduce teacher autonomy–and teachers.
But there’s also a theme here of apathy–imagined or not. When it seems students “don’t care,” teachers can struggle to be one of the few sources of innovation and enthusiasm in a classroom. And when the teacher seems to lack enthusiasm–imagined or not–the students suffer as well.
This is not a simple call for enthusiasm and “passion,” however. Passion is as much an effect as a cause, which leads to other questions: what factors contribute to passion in learning?
What learning environment characteristics depress enthusiasm?
What controllable factors reduce teacher morale?
And what is the most direct pathway between learner and content that replaces the “teacher” with networks, content channels, and technology, allowing the teacher to assume more critical roles of champion, assessment, expert, problem-solver, and, rather than an annoying avatar for the conventions of formal education, instead a real-life human being?