Kids Don't Actually Hate That

Kids don't hate math. Not even fractions. Ask them to divide a bag of candy among themselves and watch them tackle the problem. What they hate is repeat computation, void of context. Add a timer and they really hate it.

Kids don't hate writing. Give them a relevant prompt. Let them blog to an authentic audience. Ask them to advocate for an issue and see what they write. What they hate is the lack of choice and audience and the repeat revision, using paper and pencil and formalized editing marks.

Kids don't hate homework. Ask them to interview a community member or create a photo journal or do a review of a movie. Then make optional. Watch them own their learning at home. What they hate is the lack of agency and autonomy and relevance in the packets that are often associated with homework.

Kids don't hate paper and pencil assignments. I've seen them fill notebooks with ideas and sketches and stories. What they don't like is having to use paper and pencils for the kind of assignments that are better done with computers or mobile devices.

Kids don't hate memorizing. It's not a thing of the past. Visit a playground and check out the songs they've memorized. Not just simplistic pop, either. There are kids memorizing Mumford & Sons. But they do so after being immersed in a repetitive, meaningful experience. What they hate is memorizing formulas or famous dates in history.

Kids don't hate lecture. Not when it's presented quickly, in an Ignite-style session, free of note-taking and followed up with discussion.

Kids don't hate non-fiction. They'll pick up magazines and read informational text if it's on a topic that they care about or enjoy or if they can find that it connects to their world. But ask them to fill it up with highlights and sticky notes and the process becomes joyless.

Bottom line is that that kids don't hate just about every thing that they say they hate. Often, they love those things. But it has to be done well, with some level choice, autonomy, relevance and purpose.