Saturday, December 19, 2015

Russ on Reading: Meaningful Work in the Literacy Classroom

Russ on Reading: Meaningful Work in the Literacy Classroom:

Meaningful Work in the Literacy Classroom

In my last post I discussed the concept of meaningful work and how it is essential to the recruitment,
development and retention of teachers. In this post I would like to address how meaningful work is essential to student learning. As teachers we have every right to demand the autonomy, complexity and rewards that are necessary to making our work meaningful. At the same time, we have the professional obligation to provide meaningful work for our students, so that we may help activate student motivation to learn and the students may optimize their learning.
As Malcolm Gladwell has discussed in his 2009 book, Outliers, meaningful work is one major component of achieving success in life. It is meaningful work that drives people to master a complex craft, whether it be in the arts, as with The Beatles and the hours upon hours of practice they got in Hamburg, Germany strip clubs before they hit it big; or in the sciences, as with Bill Gates, who spent thousands and thousands of hours writing computer programs before he achieved success with Microsoft; or in sports, where Michael Jordan couldn’t even make his high school basketball team and yet through hard practice went on to become the greatest player of all time. To learn something well takes time and commitment (and yes, talent. But many talented people have not achieved greatness). 
How do we get this type of commitment to hard work from our students? One possible answer is by providing them with meaningful work. The work that The Beatles, Bill Gates and Michael Jordan did was personally Russ on Reading: Meaningful Work in the Literacy Classroom: