When I was in 1st grade, I got to make pudding at school. In the classroom. Real food that a person could eat. This blew my 7-year-old mind. How could anyone ever possibly be allowed to cook in a school? Kids have rules upon rules set before them with the explicit intent of keeping them from having a good time. But not this time. This time my pint-sized world got turned on its head.
I’m not sure that my teacher thought herself to be a mastermind based on a box of powdered whatever and two cups of milk. Or perhaps the simplicity of it was the genius part. Like cats and a laser pointer. She totally won at teaching that day.
All of us who teach or have taught hope that our students have such wonderful memories of the time they spent with us. Thanks to the internet, I have heard from former students (we’re talking very former) who have told me about something we did in class years ago that made a very deep impression on them. My fear is that today there is such pressure for conformity and testing for specific outcomes that teachers have little time to exercise their imagination and creativity to come up with activities that are particularly suited to their students or that are fun. I doubt if the pudding exercise was devised by a bureaucrat who had never taught seven-year olds. Education is serious business, but that doesn’t mean it has to be grim.