We Make Memories
When my daughter was three years old, she was obsessed with drains. Not your average kitchen or bathroom drain…I’m talking about the large drains covered with grates found alongside the road, in parking lots, and in many parks. Here is one of many drain pictures we snapped:
Many times we found ourselves stopping along the road or in parking lots for her to peer into the drain, always explaining to us what she saw. Her mother even made up “The Drain Song” which our daughter had to hear every night before going to sleep.
Fast forward four years. I was walking through our neighborhood with my daughter, now seven, when we came across one of the many drains we stopped at countless times when she was younger. I asked her if she still liked drains, and she looked at me like I was crazy. I asked her if she remembered “The Drain Song.” Not at all. In fact, she asked me to sing it for her.
This was mindblowing for me. How could she not remember? Then, the teacher in me started thinking. While I know part of my daughter not remembering had to do mostly with her brain development as a three-year-old, I began asking myself, “What will my students forget?” “What will they remember?”
While I can never know, here is what I think. My students will forget most everything. While what they learn will help them develop as students, I don’t think my lessons on nonfiction text features, the area of a parallelogram, or natural resources will be remembered in twenty years. These lessons are necessary because future learning builds on them, but they aren’t memories.
My students will remember when they investigated a topic over a long period of time, becoming an expert. They’ll remember delving in deep, asking questions, finding answers, and then sharing in a unique way with others. I hope they remember and develop their love of reading and writing I tried to foster. The common thread is that these all happen over extended periods of time.
Perhaps my challenge is to make my area of a parallelogram-type lessons more memorable (Teach Like a Pirate-style…), but I know that all 180 school days won’t live on in their memories forever. I want to help kids dig deep into topics and provide that spark that motivates them to investigate a topic on their own. As I prepare for the next school year, I am working to create more ways for students to do this. I know they won’t all be successful, but I can try.