Saturday, May 15, 2010

What *exactly* do I teach?

I don't teach stuff.

I don't give them formulas to memorize or timelines to remember or definitions to copy.

I don't think of my students as blank slates, or imagine myself opening their heads and pouring in knowledge.

Every student has a story, and I want to find out what it is. Even more, though, I want that student to discover his or her own story.

Where did I come from? Why do I think the way I do? Who has the ability to influence me, and why? What roadblocks do I face? When will I discover a passion? How should I follow it?

I'm not teaching them facts; I'm teaching them how to learn.

Not What's the answer?, but What do I use to solve the problem?.

Not Will this be on the test?, but Where can I use this later?.

Not What do I need to know?, but How is this relevant?.

Now, what are my hopes?

I hope someday American culture will get over its need to test, test, test. I hope we come to realize that this leaves behind not only our struggling students, but our high-ability children, too. I hope we start to understand that pass/fail numbers aren't everything, and that critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are far more important to the future of humankind than an SOL score could ever be.

I hope my students achieve great things.

As this blog gets rolling, I'll get into more specifics for teaching strategies, materials, and creative problem-solving. For the first few posts, though, the focus is going to be on why I'm doing this: Why am I blogging? Why do I teach? Why do I love what I do?


  1. You unschool for school. :-p


  2. Music to my ears! Thanks for posting!

  3. In the last century, one trend was to take a child where you found him/her and take them as far as they could go = "teach the child." That was my focus along with a lot of others, but I still say you have to teach them "something." I confess to emphasizing the things from my own schooling that I found were helpful or needful to me -- like certain dates in history that were starting points for huge changes: 1066, 1453, 1492, etc. I usually found a way to embed them into some project that made them visible or "memorable." If important but not exciting, a crazy mnemonic did the job. But no one's grade ever rose or fell on the recall of those "facts." Have fun along the way, be involved, be intrigued, become enthusiastic. I like your emphasis on process. All the information in the world is of no good if you don't know how to DO something with it -- think and innovate?



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