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Part 2: To Template or Not to Template Featured

Part 2: To Template or Not to Template

By Dr. John E. Chapman III

Templates.

I like templates.

Templates serve as models in which to copy something so one doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel so to speak. Model, example, guide, blueprint and pattern are just a few words that describe template. The best thing about templates is you can work from what’s already given. There isn’t much variation. Templates are normally straightforward, easily followed and housed somewhere between relaxation and comfort. According to Dr. Google, using templates can make your work life easier and more productive because they save you time and effort. Templates allow you to create the same document over and over with valuable repetition of information but minimal creativity. They help you streamline your workflow…

I remember taking a class when I was in high school. Monday, we would read the chapter of our 587 page textbook silently. Tuesday, we would copy the vocabulary words off the chalkboard before looking up and writing the definition borrowed from Mr. Webster. Wednesday, we would complete a very long crossword puzzle with the vocabulary words and definitions. Thursday, we would finish our three page review sheet of the entire chapter. Friday, we would have a chapter test. Very straightforward. Very predictable. Very template oriented. Since my mind tends to work from the analytical black and white (something crazy my wife tells me), that approach was very comforting to me. I knew what to expect, and when to expect it. I didn’t have to create or use higher order thinking skills.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of the information from that class.

That same year, I had a very uncomfortable class three periods after my well-loved template class.

As we would come into the door, this teacher, who at the time I thought was certifiable and belonged somewhere other than our high school, would give us random things as we walked into the door. It immediately shattered my own set of internal rules of template learning because I had no idea what was coming next. Although I felt uneasy, I kept wondering what purpose my object would have during class. Each day this went on, I felt myself wondering about the class and what would happen next. Something always unexpected happened.

I had a love/hate relationship with this teacher because she asked me questions that I had to think about more than the normal mundane questions the worksheet usually asked which I could find in the same paragraph.

I finished this class making the highest test grade ever because of the crazy antics of the teacher. I remembered more material just because of the crazy way I learned it. No one would ever forget when she came to class dressed as a bumble bee to teach us about “onomatopoeia”. To a 16 year old, wow. Just wow.

The funny thing is, I have never forgotten that lesson.

Two words…Dave Burgess.

“Much of your success as an educator has to do with your attitude towards teaching and towards kids. The rest is based on your willingness to relentlessly search for what engages students in the classroom, and then…Having the guts to do it.” ~~Dave Burgess - Teach Like a Pirate

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