Updated Post: I hope you are feeling more balanced and full of “banzai spirit” after watching The Karate Kid and reading our last movie blog. Maybe you’re taking a break from practicing the “crane kick or “sand the floor”? Perhaps you are ready to take a break from lesson planning and getting your classroom set up? Tonight’s homework is an easy one, watch The Goonies! If you’re a child of the 80’s this should be a familiar title. It should instantly bring a smile to your face and even have you spontaneously saying things like “Rocky Road,” out loud.
As with The Karate Kid, there are a myriad of lessons from this 1980’s gem. Lets look at two instructional themes that can help your teaching and your students learning: “viewing the world through your students eyes,” and “education as an adventure.”
Spoiler Alert! If you have not seen The Goonies stop reading. Watch the movie! Read this blog, and then watch the movie again and again. If you want to go in search of pirate treasure or have some other grand adventure afterwards that is up to you!
Viewing The World Through Your Student’s Eyes
One of the many things that makes The Goonies such a successful film is its point of view. From the beginning, it is the kids telling the story because it’s their time! The adults have already had their say and have made a mess of things. This includes the murderous Fratelli family, the money hungry land developers, the well-intentioned but fallible parents; the adults, pardon the expression, stink! Well, not all the adults and not all the time. After all, it was Chester Copperpot and his tireless search for One-Eyed Willie’s pirate treasure that set this grand adventure in motion. And there was One-Eyed Willie himself, whom Mikey referred to as the “first Goonie.”
So what’s a Goonie? A Goonie is adventurous, creative, inventive, brave, kind, humors, accepting, and immortal? Yes, that’s right, because “Goonies Never Say Die.” So when you are putting your lessons together and fretting over standards and outcomes, take a moment to think about and consider the world through your students’ eyes. What matters to them? What inspires them? What do they daydream about? What are they afraid of? What makes them sad? What do they want to change in the world? This shift in perspective may provide insights into what you teach and how you teach it. At the very least, it will help establish a deeper, more empathic relationship with your students. Empathy is sorely needed in our schools and world today. For more on why empathy matters and how it can improve education and even the economy check out this article by John Converse Townsend titled Why We Should Teach Empathy To Improve Education (And Test Scores) and this one by Lennon Flowers titled Unleashing Empathy: How Teachers Transform Classrooms With Emotional Learning.
Education as an Adventure
Imagine if every student woke up excited for school? (To be fair, I’m sure many of your students do!) What if they viewed each day as part of a grand adventure in which they played an essential role? That is another beautiful thing about the film. Each Goonie was unique, possessed their own skill set and perspective that helped the team succeed. Believe me, I empathize with the staggering amount of work and responsibility that is already on your plate as a teacher. I am not saying to get your rope and climbing shoes ready (might be fun if you did) and take your students up a mountain (also fun), but what elements of adventure can you incorporate into your daily teaching that will excite and inspire your Goonies? Because let’s face it, every kid is a Goonie! They all want and need that risky hunt for pirate treasure!
There is growing body of research that links risk taking to potential happiness in teens. Check out this article from Marilyn Price Mitchell PhD and founder of Roots of Action titled Why Risk-Taking May Increase Teen Happiness. Could there be a correlation between disruptive student behavior and lack of risk in the classroom? I can recall numerous instances when students told me that boredom was the source of their poor behavior. Would you rather have students ready to engage in purposeful, structured adventure, or students that out of boredom and their innate need to take risks turn your days into classroom management nightmares? Remember, “Without risk, there is no reward!” For more quotes to get you inspired to take more risks this year click here.
Going on a search for pirate treasure is probably not in the school budget and you might not have the time for an extended adventure. That’s ok, you don’t need to go anywhere. Consider starting your day with a team challenge. Here is a simple one: tell your students to count to twenty (or however many students you have) without repeating a number and without opening their eyes. Give them three chances because they will need it! Better yet, take your students outside for a challenge or lesson. The simple act of changing environments introduces elements of risk and adventure.
There are many great organizations and programs that focus on adventure based education that have a wealth of information and resources to help you get started. Nature Bridge and the National Park Service created this list of ideas on how to get students and teachers outside more. Project Adventure offers teachers and schools ideas, activities and trainings to promote their mission of active learning. If you want to go even deeper you can sign up with the University of San Diego to take their course titled Adventure in the Everyday Classroom.
The takeaway: By viewing the world through your student’s eyes you create an empathic environment conducive to building relationships and promoting growth. By introducing elements of adventure and risk into your teaching you address developmental realities and provide exciting and challenging opportunities that can increase happiness in your students.
Thank you for reading and sharing and remember Goonies Never Say Die!