Losing the "Twinkle"


Getting ready for Kindergarten
This week my oldest son starts kindergarten and my youngest is starting preschool. My wife and I have spent the summer talking it up and getting them pumped for school. However, none of that was needed. They are both beyond excited for school. They literally cannot wait to start going to school. Their backpacks have been loaded with supplies and sitting at the ready for weeks. My kindergartner has been reading picture books about kindergarten every night all summer while my youngest keeps asking me when he can go to “my classroom”. The pure joy and excitement they have is just simply amazing.

As I reflected on their feelings it made me wonder about my own students that I teach. I teach in a junior high and I see the faces of the kids as they come in that first day. They are excited to see their friends or get started with intramurals or sports. However, I don’t see that “twinkle” in their eye like I see with my sons. When thinking about this I have a few questions that I am not sure I have any answers for.


When does the twinkle go away? When do students stop wanting to go to school? When does that excitement and joy for school fade? At what point is school something to get through in order to get back to summer break?

While those questions are important I think there is a more important one to consider. Why do kids lose that feeling? Are schools to blame for this loss of love for school? What are teachers doing to combat the loss of love for schooling?

As I sit in my class I wonder how many of my students were excited about coming back to school after their summer. I hope that those who were not excited soon rediscover that feeling. My goal is to make learning relevant, fun, and worth their time on a daily basis. What are you doing in your classroom or school to excite students and rejuvenate their passion and love of school? 

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

So true! Students come to school curious and excited about everything - teachers need to cultivate that curiosity!

I've always marveled at how young children love art. They create elaborate pictures and tell you stories all about it and eventually one day it all stops and when asked to draw a picture they say, "I can't draw."

I'm with you 110% that we need "twinkles" in students eyes and pure excitement for learning each and every day!

MDS said...

It was never school or the content that brought me down, but the teacher. I have former students that are sharing their fall schedules on FB and the common comment is "oh, you got [fill in appropriate teacher], you're screwed!" There is obviously the flip of this as well. I dislike History to this day because of my 9th grade History teacher (and my wife teaches Social Studies). I understand the subject, and I did well in it, but I have no love for it like I do the others. Unfortunately, too often we are to blame for losing the twinkle.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

MDS,

You are right! Teachers are the reason kids lose...or gain the twinkle. A good friend was just telling a story about his daughter who used to hate biology. Then she had a great teacher and now loves it. Teachers often do not realize the power they have to turn a kid off or on to a subject or an overall love of learning.

Education Technology Specialist said...

I have been thinking about this "twinkle" a lot lately. This past summer I taught high school students for the first time. I had taught 5th grade for four years and most of my students still had the "twinkle". When my high school students walked in and shut down right away, it was such a change for me.

I hated to see this and tried very hard to get them excited about what we were doing. Some days it was a slight challenge to "reverse" their views of school. I wish more teachers asked the questions you brought up in your post!

Wm Chamberlain said...

I think a lot of my junior high students still really enjoy being in school (I would like to take credit for some of that because they seem to really enjoy being in my class.) I do think that many of my students come to school bringing a lot of baggage from home though. Maybe some of your students are reflecting what they are experiencing at home instead of what is going on at school?

Anonymous said...

Here's a scary thought...
The teachers who help contribute to "twinkle-loss" don't know that they are the teachers who contribute to "twinkle-loss". They think they're doing a great job.

The ones who talk ALL period, the ones who teach the same lesson for 10 years in a row, the ones who still don't know the kids names by December, the ones who never have anything planned and tell the kids to just pull out a book and read silently, the ones who show movies two or three times a week... I could go on and on and on...
The scary thing is they think they're doing a great job, and they collect the same paycheck as everybody else.

Christina Abel said...

Ok so my teacher for my methods of teaching social studies class, I think you may know her Lauren Ewanic,said that we had to either agree with a post (not yours in particular but she gave us your blog as an option), challenge a post, and support a post. The agreeing and supporting so far I have done. The challenge part is getting difficult because so far I have agreed with a lot of your posts. This one I choose to reflect upon seeing as there isn't really a stance in this post.

I believe that the twinkle goes away as things become challenging or they start to not always do so well. As you said in a previous post not every teacher is a good teacher. There are bad teachers out there and these teachers create bad experiences that have that impact on students. I also believe it is their social experiences within school. If a student is getting bullied or is not making a lot of friends then their enjoyment of the social institution of school diminishes.

So to follow with the next question of are schools to blame I would have to follow it with a different question...Are schools trying to doing their best to improve? I would have to say that if a school is doing their best to combat bullying, to provide aid in forming friendships, and improving a child's experience in the classroom such as providing trainings or suggestions to their "bad" teachers, then I would have to say that the institution of school is not to blame.

The next question as to what teachers are doing to combat the loss of learning I would have to say that you are doing it. They need to make learning fun again for those students. Provide them with support and make a safe environment for them within the classroom. They may not love school again but they will love coming for your class and if every teacher follows suit I think that it can build again. In order to do that you have to, as you said before, build relationships with students. Ask them why they do not like school. You can not improve something if you do not know where it all went wrong.

Josh Stumpenhorst said...

Christina,

First, make sure you listen to your teacher...she knows what she is talking about! ;) Thanks for commenting and I think you raise some interesting questions. I think we do know what causes kids to loose their twinkle and either can't or won't change anything. Think about schools that focus so much on test scores and data. What message does that send to kids/parents about the value of learning? Think about teachers that bombard students with homework. What message does this send to kids about family time or what real learning is? There are many things that teachers due either because they want to or are told to that does contribute to "twinkle loss". For me the key is doing whatever I can to have students want to come back and learn each day. Some days are easier than others...but worth it.

mona said...

I believe that we all get excited about new things in our lives. School is one of those things. I do not think that teachers must be blamed for students losing twinkles. Some students come with big loads from home, no matter what teachers do or how fun they try to make leaning students will lose interest sometimes. I think that it is ok. As parents, employees, or students we all lose interest or twinkles at times. I agree that a good teacher keep students engaged and excited about learning sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but the most important thing is that teachers have to keep trying.