— Zac Chase (@MrChase) January 25, 2016
There is nothing that frustrates me more than apathy. The statements of “whatever” or “I don’t care” that would occasionally come out of my students’ mouths would make me cringe. It wasn’t just that I happen to like when people are passionate and engaged. Nor was it a sense that these students were just waisting their time. Rather, I hate apathy because it is the surest sign that you have stopped learning. And for me, learning is the only thing there is.
When you no longer care about what comes next or how to solve a problem, it means that you are locked into what you already know. You are not expanding the edges of the map or plumbing the depths of what is already a part of you. Your apathy can also be contagious. It can spread to others in the classroom, making it so no students are able to persist in the face of difficult ideas. Whenever the caring in the classroom drops, the walls around each student are built higher. Each wall isolates the individual and divides the community.
I believe that all of the rules within a classroom must be co-defined by those within it. So, this rule has been written in many different ways. One seventh grade class put it this way: “I will participate.” Another 8th grade class said, ” I will be creative and put my own ‘flava’ into all of my endeavors.” Yet another said, “Always express yourself. Never hold back.” While these may border on cliche, they are show just how essential and vibrant the students’ can be when they are asked to craft what their engagement looks like.
For me, there are only actions. In the classroom as well as outside of it, the actions are the ones that make learning possible. So, my version of the rule goes something like this:
Participate. Engage. Try.
Learn. Share. Trust.
Give. Write. Make.