Friday, August 7, 2015

But WHY?


 

"Education is the most important job of the human race."  So said George Lucas, director extraordinaire!  As a teacher, and profound appreciator of Indiana Jones, I can't really argue with that logic.  Especially when I hand the cashier at the grocery store $31.16 for a 26.16 bill, and am greeted with a blank stare.  

George Lucas isn't the only person out there pontificating on education.  There are literally hundreds of quotes out there that are meant to inspire both educators and students.  Hearing some of those quotes in early August, however, rubs some learners the wrong way -- much like the "Most Wonderful Time of the Year" commercial from Staples.  

Between district initiatives, continued revision of legislation and standards, and the ever-so-popular standardized testing, somewhere deep inside us is the reason we shop the back to school sales, and start planning bulletin boards come the first week of August.

One of the common questions on employment applications for teachers is "Explain your educational philosophy."  Sure, there's a passion, desire, drive, that makes this career one that most teachers discover long before high school, yet articulating that motivation is often much more difficult than one would expect.  Yet, as teachers, we have a responsibility to identify a philosophy that is our own.
 Whether or not most students realize it, humans have an innate desire to learn.  It isn't just adults who watch Youtube as a learning tool to replace the O-Rings in their faucets, these very same self-proclaimed haters of learning who are teaching themselves what they actually want to learn by searching the billions of videos, sites, and resources available in the very palms of their hands.

As I write this, five former students - friends of my daughter's--are giggling together downstairs, more than three years since graduation from high school.  In a couple of short months, I'm headed to the shore for a long weekend with my very closest friends from high school.  Whether it be three years, or thirty five, the connections, sense of community, and friendships that develop are as important (or more important) than any of the book-learning.

 
Perhaps John Dewey has the best perspective on this in his quote.

 This year, my philosophical focus will be on two, very different, metacognitive principles:

1.  The Creative Process
2. Observation of Human Behavior

Despite objections, the students all connect to, and desire more information, about themselves, their ideas, and those around them.  Which can pretty much be summed up as a fascination in life itself.  These skills will, I hope, remain with my students long after they've forgotten everything else they learned in high school.  Because three years from now, there's a bonfire with their names on it, and a group of friends waiting for them.