Charlie Meyer's Blog

Teaching is More than Dominoes

tags: #education

Teaching is like setting up dominoes for your students – they knock them down, see what happens, and learn. When the chain of 3000 dominoes you’ve laid out in your curriculum don’t all fall down in one fell swoop, that’s when it’s time to intervene with some socratic dialogue to keep things moving again. However, this approach doesn’t quite scale, and it’s not… fun?

The approach that does scale is to have students set up their own dominoes, knock them over, experiment, and see what happens. (see: Constructivism) For some kids, this change of framing is all that’s required. But for some, they’ve learned through years of boredom or discouragement that [Insert subject here] just isn’t for them.

If dominoes aren’t fun for a student, what are our options? We need a way to get dominoes to be exciting, so maybe we can make them fun colors, or draw smiley faces on them, or have them glow in the dark. To our dismay, glow in the dark dominoes are more likely than not going to piss off the majority of students.

Another argument we can make is economic – you’re going to need to knock down plenty of dominoes at your [Insert well paying job here]. Having a loudspeaker blaring to students that “ is eagerly waiting to hire you upon your knocking down of Domino 6000” while they are learning might help a few, but won’t convince those who think they just suck at dominos.

To help the students who still aren’t engaged, we need to attack the problem from all sides. Are the dominos too heavy? Too light? Does the room have a draft? More important than the questions of ergonomics and environment are those of entertainment – what can we do to make dominoes actually fun? offers some dominoes related insight. The most viewed video for the search term “dominoes” is “🌋🚀 VOLCANO ERUPTION (Match Heads Facing Inward) 🔥😱 Match Chain Reaction Amazing Fire Domino)”. Volcanic eruptions and fire are a tad dangerous, but the point holds. We need to offer our students more than just wooden blocks!