The One Right Way to Do Things


I was grading some papers, and a student wrote about how computers “get infermation quiqlly.” I can’t get past the spelling. Sure, it wasn’t right, but it communicated the point.

I ate lunch with first graders today. The lunch lady, for dessert, gave them frozen peach cups that were tricky to open – the condensation made the plastic seal slippery. Kids stabbed through the top with the end of their spoon; kids yanked the corner up with their teeth; kids flipped it upside down and pressed from the bottom, shoving the slushy mass through the top like a push pop.

In the computer lab, I watched as students went through many of the same routines, with variations. To do a typing activity, some students discussed with one another what they wanted to write. One started at the “last” question and worked his way up. Another bypassed the keyboard by turning on Voice Typing in the Google Doc. Some logged out of the computers by clicking on the start menu and scrolling down until they found the log out command. Others used keyboard shortcuts.

I emailed the other technology resource teachers in the district to ask how they handle a certain challenge (where tech skills meet classroom management). They had several strategies, some building-wide, some on case by case basis, and some methods that fell between those extremes. There was no one-size-fits-all solution.

What I’m trying to say is, I get really frustrated when adults act like there’s only one right or best way to do things. Yeah, some ways will be faster, some more efficient, some more comfortable, some less expensive. But that doesn’t mean other ways are inherently wrong or bad. And yeah, there is probably one best way to do certain things, but I like to let kids try those out and realize why other ways don’t work as well. They shouldn’t have to take my word for it.

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