Why I Do This: Invest in Teaching and the Return on Adventure

I think we need a new measurement for tracking the success of our maker ventures, a new yardstick. I propose “Return on Adventure”

via MAKE | Maximizing Your ROA (Return on Adventure).

There’s been much discussion of the value, in dollars and sense, of a good teacher,

via What is a Good Teacher Worth? – NYTimes.com.

I’m a builder of things.  As a child, I built models and dioramas and train sets and miniatures.  In college I built poetry and plays, papers and rhymes.  I built a piss-poor set of ethics also, but that’s a different post.  Now, I build furniture at  home and students in  my classroom.

I don’t do any of these things because they are good monetary investments.  I can make more money as an engineer than a teacher, I can buy better furniture than what I can make (though the difference grows smaller every day). Shakespeare’s a better writer than I’ll ever be.  I’m no Mitch Albom and I won’t sell schlock.  I can even buy those minis painted.  The ROI (return on investment) of my time in teaching, in creation, in living, seems to so little.

Back to the classroom.  Project-based learning doesn’t always translate into standardized, multiple choice test answers, the currency of our American educational system.  There’s no box which represents critical thinking skills, no box for the slow sweet confidence which comes with being able to use tools well, no box to check for smiling, no box to check if a student becomes a more competent, ethical, compassionate human being.  At times, project-based learning looks like it provides a lower ROI in a multiple-choice test.  Why even attempt it?  Just drill-and-kill.  It’ll get you there cheaper.

Which is probably another, different blog and/or post.  I’m a lucky teacher.  I can preach and practice, practice and preach what I love: project-based learning makes a difference in student’s lives, not only because it is an effective teaching practice, but because it provides something more than a simple ROI.  Project-based curriculum creates learners, not widgets.  Project-based learning gives high ROA.

ROA: Return on Adventure.

Make it safe & keep the rubberside down this weekend.