Why Teach?

I teach because I want the world to be a better place, because I loved all kinds of learning and didn’t want to choose one way of being in the world. I love painting and music, reading and movies, chemistry and mathematics. I believe that learning is a life-long experience; it neither begins nor ends in the school. My children have been learning for a number of years and they are only now starting school learning. We learn together what it means to be a family in a society centered on conspicuous over-consumption. We answer the questions together of what we want versus what we need. We learn together about sustainable living. They challenge me with questions about where the world came from and prod me into giving God-centered and science grounded answers.

I believe that my children have learned and continue to learn best through their experiencing of real life activities and events. They have learned time telling because the sun does not help them to know when to get up in the winter. They have learned about quanitity and capacity while baking. They have learned about the life cycle of plants and the amzing function of seeds by gardening along side us. We read together, paint and sing and dance together. We try to be good to each other. We yell and cry and hug and laugh.

When John Dewey talks about the school being a microcosm of the world and society, I believe the kind of learning we are doing in my family is what he intended. Classrooms need to be like families. The first step is developing relationships. I have not been an expert at this but I have seen what the experts look like in action. It comes by taking the time to be with the students, hear about their lives outside of school and on the playground and valuing those experiences . When I enter a classroom, I should hear the voices of the students talking with each other and with the teacher about life and what’s important. The students and their interests should be at the center of the curriculum. Curriculum, that’s my next post.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Why Teach?

  1. David Crowell

    I appreciate your comments on education and the family. I agree that the classroom should be an extension of the family learning environment. I have seen several models describing effective school spaces. One is a circle with the words:Mastery, resonsibility, fun and love. It was a model used in a former division I worked in and provided the source for some interesting conversations. Sadly, in many minds, the classroom starts with the concept of mastery first, reponsibility second and love and fun lagging behind. Many educators feel students must first show they care about learning and take responsibility themselves before we will accept students as individuals. We drive this process the wrong way. Love and belonging should be the first of our steps in our work as teachers. Once students know they belong and that they are good enough as they are we see learning as fun. With these foundations in place, we will see students who take responsibility and master their work. Not the other way around. We run our families (at least I do) with love and belonging being unconditional and present before everything else. As Mary Poppis showed, any task can be fun if we turn it around into a game. Learning is a fun activity and as teaches we cannot forget what matters most.

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