Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Don't Let Stubbornness Stifle

    I really enjoy Netflix.  A show that my wife and I sit down and watch together is about a small town community in Canada.  The show protagonist is a young teacher who is constantly using life lessons and reaching an entire town of diverse learners.  We just came across an episode where the teacher's reputation was slandered and she has been replaced (hopefully just temporarily!) by a newer, meaner teacher.
    A moment from this episode has been sticking with me recently.  This new teacher participated in actions that really make me question his dedication to education.  He continued to snap the pencils of one student who loved to write but wasn't holding the pencil correctly.  He kicked one boy out of his class because he was not learning at the rate of the other students and feared this boy's test scores would bring down his reputation.  He took away recess from a class of elementary school students and then had questions about his classroom management techniques (surprise, surprise).  Then when questioned on his technique he said that his technique was the only way and is fine for everyone who is able to learn.
    What crushed me as I was thinking about this is that this teacher stifled all the creativity and all the passion of learning because students were not doing things his way.  How many of us have had experiences in education where our passion for learning was suspended due to some arbitrary semantics?  Or something more convicting. . . how many of us stifled creativity due to semantics?  Whether intentionally or unintentionally there are moments where our stubbornness has the potential to hinder learning.
    I am encouraged that the educators that I work with and all of the educators I interact with on Twitter are actively fighting against doing what is comfortable in exchange for what is best for students.  If a student is actively and joyfully writing why does it matter that they are not holding the pencil the way we think they should?  If a student wants to learn and takes them a bit longer to learn concepts that does not mean they will never catch up.  There are many ways to teach a child, we need to open ourselves up to the fact that maybe we need to change.  Maybe we need to adapt to support that child to help our students go on to explore the stars, to innovate in infrastructure, to lead free people, to go on to inspire future generations.
    We are at a pivotal crossroads in education.  We are actively coming face-to-face with the future of the world.  My question is will we allow our stubbornness to keep the world trapped in the past or will we reject failed practices that prevent innovation in order to catapult us into a beautiful and brighter tomorrow?

I think you know where I stand, and I hope you will stand with me.

-Phil

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