Apples and Ideas…Are you listening?

George Bernard Shaw observed:  “If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still have an apple.  If you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.”  For example, in a classroom this morning a small group of learners were discussing a book about apples (this is what we call a literature circle).  One member commented: “I like Gala apples because they are sweeter.”  Another child added, “But Red Delicious are really sweet too; I eat these for dessert sometimes.”  Still another chimed in: “When my granny makes pie she uses Granny Smith green apples even though they’re more tart than the other two–she just adds extra sugar!”  Clearly, these learners were taking personal apple experiences and holding each other accountable for their observations.  They were listening, really listening, to one another and contributing ideas to the discussion.  Their statements were also offering evidence to support their experiences.

I want to jump for JOY (I know; not a pretty picture) when I hear conversations such as this!  Learners are thinking about, talking about, and sharing together their ideas in a way that teaches active listening.  The exchange of ideas teaches teamwork, collaboration, and cooperation–all skills we need to survive in the “real” world.

As I’ve noted before, school is not all books and structured instruction; many activities lend themselves to self-discovery and inquiry.  I challenge you to ask a simple question and expand on the response with your child today, but whether it’s apples or other ideas, I hope we are all really listening!

3 thoughts on “Apples and Ideas…Are you listening?

  1. WOW–you both bring up amazing points…preach it! I remember being told as a young teacher, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There is definitely an art and a science to teaching and learning; may we never forget the heart! Perhaps I have another blog topic . . . as always, thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! 🙂

  2. I was discussing with my middle child some of the shortfalls of the testing system that is in place to determine if teachers are teaching and students are learning. I made the point to him that on any given year, neither his grades nor his scores on the state test would indicate that there is any variance in his education. The missing information in those scores are the life lessons he learned from teachers who went beyond the curriculum and made lasting connections with him.

    He shared the memories of the teacher who taught him how to calm himself before a test, and the teacher that taught him how aspire higher, even when he had already done well. He laughed when he retold the story about the day his school bus was run off the road and the amazing response of the bus driver.

    I will forever contend that I am very well aware of how effect our schools and teachers are, and there is no score or ranking that tells me more than what I already know. And most of what I know is that the most profound lessons that the schools have taught my children have nothing to do with curriculum and so much more to do with heart.

    And I was most proud of our community, as well as my child, when the following statement was made:

    “She was such an amazing teacher. She really cared and wanted everyone to do well, She worked really hard to make sure everyone was doing their best.”

  3. You mentioned cooperation and collaboration as key elements of idea generation. A third “C” word should also be considered: “compassion”. This word is the interesting combination of three parts: com + pass + ion “Com” indicates that communication is an important part of our idea generation. “Pass” leads us to ignore all irrelevant concerns in focusing on the successful accomplishment of our idea goal. “ion” means we must be an active, energized catalyst in the idea process; always moving forward. Combining the last two syllables creates “passion”, which is the heart and soul of creating and sharing a successful idea. So there you have it: a successful idea = teamwork + collaboration + cooperation + compassion. Thank you to the great teacher who teaches about this great equation of life.

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