Hooray for Miss Bonkers!

I had “another moment of grace” (ie where you see the extraordinary in the ordinary) at one of our schools this week….

I was asked to speak to the parents about the direction of 21st century learning and the impact on current practices.  I thought I was well prepared and even had some of the theory we are using to underpin our system direction to help explain to the parents.

A teacher began the meeting by reading Dr Seuss’ Hooray for Diffendoofer Day (see the What I’m Reading Link).  I was immediately struck by this wonderful story because it was able to convey everything I had wanted to speak about that very night. It was done with Seuss‘ unique humour, creativity and integrity.

Seuss actually began working on the idea of Diffendoofer School and their fabulous teacher Miss Bonkers in 1989 (two years before his death), long before the digital education revolution!

For me, this story captures the quintessential elements of schooling for today’s world:

  • relationships are central to quality learning and teaching
  • great teachers are the most powerful influence on student learning
  • imagination is more important than knowledge (Einstein)
  • if teachers are passionate about their teaching, students are passionate about their learning
  • each school is challenged to be as creative and diverse as it can be (ie. we cannot afford to maintain the status quo)
  • school leadership has to encourage, trust and support their teachers and students
  • celebrate learning
  • well taught students will pass any standardised test(s)
  • the environment must reflect the approach to learning
  • there is no one size fits all

This book should be compulsory reading for all educators – you’ll understand why when you read it! It reinforces our educational narrative in ways that touch our hearts and minds.

6 thoughts on “Hooray for Miss Bonkers!

  1. Thanks for that,
    My favourite book of all time is “Oh the places you’ll go” by Suess and people laugh at this all the time but I give them a copy and they understand it is a great mantra for life.

  2. I have shown and referred to ‘Oh, the places you’ll go” by Suess to support my ideas and visions for student learning when being interviewed for an assistant principal position in the past. I have read many books that have challenged my thinking, and one I recommend is ‘Who moved my cheese?’ by Spencer Johnson, M.D. I was very please to hear, today at the Implementing Contemporary Learning Workshop at Rose Hill, that Principal, Tony of Silverton, Vic, has used this text with his staff.

  3. I first heard Diffendoofer Day at a Kagan conference in Singapore. Since then I have read it to my class at the beginning of every year to demonstrate how important it is that they learn how to THINK!!! I love Miss Bonkers and good old Mr Lowe, what a brilliant thinker Dr Suess was.

  4. When reading your blog entry one thing leapt off the page at me. The comment you made … “if teachers are passionate about their teaching, students are passionate about their learning ” …this has always been my belief and was reinforced by our Year 5 teachers this week. They have embraced open learning spaces, and after attending Wednesday’s forum they came back to school ready to make adjustments that would benefit their students in a real way. An outdoor learning space has been created right outside their room and plans are underway for the students to redesign a storeroom, using class budget funds, to create a recording studio.
    When one works with such enthusiasm how can one not be infected?
    Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to network last Wednesday and to ask the pertinent questions that will help us to be enthused and to subsequently enthuse our students.

  5. I first discovered this book a couple of years ago…and I too have found it an inspirational and challenging narrative. Its powerful message to all educators to resist institutionalisation and to foster creativity, perhaps even more relevant now than ever! It also underscores the importance of narrative to meaning making and the power of a good story in our lives.

  6. Robyn, great to hear about what’s happening at your school. It shows that you can really do something very meaningful and in good time. It doesn’t have to be overly complex. It just requires a focus on the learning. I see this all the time, teachers and kids love working together and that’s where the buzz is.

    Can anyone suggest other good books?

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