Teachers. What is the purpose of a teacher?
While most people claim it’s to impart knowledge, I offer a different or more in-depth spin on the job of a teacher. (Homeschool parents- you’re included too, so consider the following.)
Teaching really isn’t about teachers. It’s about guiding the student.
It’s about discovery.
It’s about questions and guidance towards your own conclusions. It’s about digging up evidence, considering every possibility that crosses your path and researching until the pieces of the puzzle start to fit together. It’s about taking the time to mull over possibilities, finding support and opposition, and talking to experts or doing the experiment yourself. It’s about finding the truth; your own truth based on your knowledge and understanding realizing that your “conclusion” may change with more information. It’s about the fun of finding out.
It’s about creation.
It’s about creating products, creating experiments, creating minds and spirits. It’s about assisting in that perception and understanding of a student to use his own knowledge to do what he is able to do at his stage. Don’t worry if the letters are crooked or the diagram lacks details. It always will be incomplete and can always be improved as does your own creations. Accept it and praise the creation for what it is and then spur your student onto greater creations.
It’s about questions.
Teaching is not about listening to the teacher’s answers; it’s about asking questions of an expert. When the teacher isn’t the expert, the questions need to be directed elsewhere. To a book, to a video, to an expert online; all through discovery. The heart of questioning isn’t about the answer, it’s about asking the questions. The questions tell you what the student knows, lacks in knowledge and understanding, and ultimately guides that student in a direction of further discovery.
It’s about debate.
Debate is a crucial adult skill that needs to be fostered from the time that we are young until the time that we grow old. Debate screams out, “I care and I want to know.” Debate isn’t about proving who is right, but understanding what we know and finding the holes and filling them. Debate isn’t about taking one position and defending it, but instead about considering alternatives and using those alternatives not to compromise, but to alter our perceptions or reinforce our understanding. In understanding the many different views of others, we reach a higher plane of understanding.
It’s about the struggle.
When you learn, you’re actually piecing together a myriad of former ideas, misconceptions, and rebuilding neural pathways. You’re reassembling your mind’s structure. When it comes easily, those neural pathways have been used often and you’re not learning. You may be revisiting information or adding minor details, but it’s only through the struggle where you learn. That learning will need to be used over and over before it will stick and be able to be truly learned through extension and application, through transference and transcendence. But, to truly learn, you must struggle.
It’s about that spark.
If you’ve ever seen a student struggle, you are watching a star being born. It’s not through quite contemplation and open ears. Sparks of knowledge and understanding come through a struggle to know. It’s about trial and error, confusion and urgency that must be satisfied. It’s about that final “a-ha” that still leaves room for more knowledge and understanding. That spark is the greatest reason why I teach. It’s the payoff for a guide.
Teaching is not about testing, pressure, deadlines, mandates, benchmarks, comparisons, bells ans whistles.
It’s about learning. Teachers are only guides.
When students grew frustrated in my classrooms and often demanded to know the “correct” answer, my response was always, “I’m here to make you think.” It wounded me to hear “Just give us the answer” from my students. It meant they were done discovering, questioning, debating, and that there would be no fire because there would be no spark. Sparks are becoming more and more rare in many classrooms. How often do you see them around you?
Though I’m not teaching in a classroom these days, but instead in a homeschool of one, I still offer the same response. Though we come to accept sacrosanct ideas in schools and even in our homes, people need to give in to discovery, creation, questions, debate, and struggle.…..and just think. We need to find our own answers and draw our own conclusions. We all do.
“Life isn’t about finding the right answers. It’s about asking the right questions.”
I often contemplate whether or not to include citations or links in my posts. In professional papers, citations are a must. They show where our ideas come from, but I often find myself as the chicken not really understanding where I got the idea and so I search out false eggs to provide others a way to discover more about my perceptions. So, here are some chickens or eggs to follow if I succeeded in making you think.