How Far is too Far?

I don’t watch tv. So anyone who knows me will find it odd that I am about to write about a tv show. But my husband is in Malaysia at a conference, my kids have discovered, and after a long day, I was just fine with their idea to cozy up in bed with them and the laptop.

Last week, we watched a Glee episode – a first for me – called “The Substitute”. Gwyneth Paltrow, guest-starring as the substitute, plays a teacher who tries desperately to connect with the students. She says to one girl, “You suck” as she hands the answers to the upcoming pop quiz to another student in an attempt to be accepted. As the story develops, it becomes clear that the students are fascinated by her. Abiding by no classroom rules, she lets them choose their own music for Glee Club– however risqué – and goes so far as to compliment them by tweet.

Is this the new classroom? I’d say “no”, but kids are definitely now growing up in a world that is technologically savvy and fast-paced. And our schools are increasingly talking about how to ensure that they focus on the skills needed to thrive in this changing environment and how to create learning environments that inspire and motivate. And Glee gets us thinking: do we focus on their interests? Do we embrace their methods of communication? Do we increase our use of technology or social media to better motivate and connect with them?

These are questions facing teachers AND parents. It was my son who helped with an answer.

Last night, a new episode of Glee was on TV (another great one on bullying) and my kids asked to watch it. I had read about the term “Gleek” – someone who is a fan of the show – so I joked that I was becoming one and was going to blog about this. I’m thinking to myself: I’m as cool as Gwyneth.

My 11 year old son Jacob set me straight: “You’re not a Gleek. You’re a 41 year old woman. And if you try to be cool, you’re not going to sound smart”.

How far do you go to connect with kids?  Never so far as to lose your authenticity.

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