In my coat room I have an ugly dirty greyish cabinet that I use for storage. It’s covered with old magnetic words that were given to me many years ago. The students enjoy playing with them to create odd sentences while they wait for their turn to get into the closet. As a result their creations are quickly “destroyed” and new ones are made as other students read them and then cycle through.
I was both amused and dismayed to see that someone had ripped up my magnets to create the word change so they could put “do not change” under their poem. I suppose necessity is the master of invention.
Fifth graders love to make things theirs. I indulge this by spending time decorating writer’s notebooks and in recent years I also give them time to customize their binders as well. You can learn a lot about kids this way so it seems valuable to me. I ignore the doodles and stickers that pop up on their name tags as long as they don’t make it onto the desk. Yes, it annoys me but I’ve tried to fight that battle before. It’s not worth it.
When my class published their first piece of writing on the iPad they were so excited. Until they saw that most people had used the same two templates in pages. Now they are immersed in learning about layout and design so that they can create what suits their needs.
They want garage band so they can make their own movie scores. They don’t like their blogging platform because they don’t have enough creative control. They are obsessed with creating the perfect wallpaper for their iPad. These students want to customize the world to meet their needs.
I love that they see themselves as agents of change. That they have the confidence and creativity and guts to mold things to fit their needs. That they possibility instead of impossibility. But, I’m also concerned about their ability to accept situations where things can’t be changed. In a world where we’ve prioritized customization we are still bound by a certain amount of standardization. Big questions to think about. I guess it’s time for the world to catch up to my students.