0117: Teaching: Love, Science, Foolishness, and Persuasion an Algorithm for Success #education #edreform #SOSchat
Teaching is an action that requires love, science, foolishness, and persuasion all to work in concert. It’s a near impossible task to teach anyone anything, but somehow, through the above formula, people learn. Have you ever tried to teach a small child to blow their own nose or to tie a shoe? It’s miraculous that anyone ever learns either of those skills. Reading is no different. There are all these little bits that must be assembled by someone for reading to become meaningful. There is nothing simple about it. The credit cannot go to one person alone. Every experience a child has becomes a tool, a cog, a weight and balance in the odd amalgamation of skills and experience that are eventually referred to as print literacy. It comes with steps forward followed by numerous steps back. Theory has a big role in explaining this process/es, but the role of dogged perseverance is stronger.
Just to teach a simple skill requires the love, science, foolishness, persuasion algorithm. Teachers have to have great love for their students, and perhaps for humanity, to engage in such a daunting task. Without love we would quickly turn away from the deluge of frustration and seek higher more quickly rewarding ground.
The science behind teaching and learning, whether or not it is understood in scientific terms, is vast. First, research based methods are implemented in classrooms daily. There are, of course, basic learning theories, crowd psychology, neuroscience, and so forth. All teachers are not versed in the science of their practice, but undoubtedly implement solid research based strategies, that are recreated and invented over and over again because that is what is required. Teachers are constantly experimenting with different ways of teaching. Each year, each day, each class period the dynamics of the classroom change. What worked for one group may fail miserably. Teachers adjust, many so fluidly that it isn’t even noticeable to the teacher or observer. It’s a think on your feet kind of job.
Teaching requires a level of foolishness. What is the limit of perseverance? When do people give up? I teach alongside forty year veterans who have day in day out taught the same subject, never ceasing to try and teach basic multiplication to kids who are years behind. Teachers who patiently help high schoolers sound out words they should be reason fluently. These teachers see students grow, struggle grow some more, experience set backs, and keep going. This can all happen over the course of a day, hour, year, whatever. Teachers don’t quit. Each year regulations get tighter. Teaching becomes more impossible. We see budgets cut. We dig deep. We become less revered, more hated. Teachers are abused. Abused. Abused. And they/we keep at it. Foolish? Perhaps, but people need to learn. There is no time to hang on a cross. Each generation has needs. Our society needs literate people. We’re trying. It’s difficult, but God knows we’ll find away.
Teachers must be incredibly persuasive. Could anyone learn algebra if they weren’t? Teachers must motivate a group of students to learn to learn. We are perpetually leading people to water, and trying to help them learn to drink. We try to stir hope in hopeless people. We try to help students see their own potential. We stoke the fires of curiosity, when not impeded by test prep. We stoke the fires anyway. We try to keep learners learning even though learning seems futile.
It seems cold and pointless when it all seems to lead to a cold and pointless test. But, we don’t teach for a test. We teach for humanity. Education has a chance to be a great equalizer. It is turning quickly into something different. The great equalizer is not education as a system, but the ability to learn and navigate systems. We are fighting to give tools to people who can take them and transform their own worlds. We are fighting for our own worlds. We are fighting, hopefully, for humanity. We will continue without regard to blockades on our journey. We will
stick to love, science, foolishness, and persuasion. Say what you want, but we are teachers. We are committed. We enable our neighbors to transform their own worlds as we change ours. Keep at it.