No More Teaching

When thinking about teaching, many of us conjure images of a wise sage standing in front of a group of youngsters, dispensing knowledge as eager students absorb new enlightenment. In fact, Webster defines teach as “to cause to know something,” or “to impart the knowledge of.” Unfortunately, the model of many modern classrooms continues to follow the industrial-based model of the last century: students sitting in neat rows as a teacher hands out knowledge (and not a few worksheets in the process.)

In case you haven’t noticed, the times are a-changin.’

Schools used to be a place where parents sent their kids to learn stuff. Now they are places where we facilitate learning.

Several factors create this huge paradigm shift, but one of the most powerful influences is the rise of technology. Students simply learn from a wide variety of sources besides school. The schoolteacher’s voice is only one of countless voices sharing new information constantly.

Do you realize that the graduating class of 2012 is the first batch of “Internet Explorer® Seniors?” That is, they are the first group of students who were born after the popular web browser was released to graduate from high school. They know no other environment besides a wired world.

My grandson’s first word was “da-da.” His second was “omputer.” Ethan is four now, and it no longer impresses him that I have a computer, an iPhone, a Blackberry, an iPad, or any other technological gadget. It’s simply the world he knows. I can count on him navigating through the icons on my laptop quicker than I can. He and the other children of his generation are growing up bilingual. They communicate in their native language and in technology-ish.

What does that mean for us in schools? First we recognize the evolving landscape, welcome it, celebrate it, and make adjustments in our approach. We don’t want to echo the wise words of Dilbert: “Change is good. You go first.” We want to be on the front edge of the change, integrating technology and a new learning paradigm into our school culture.

Second, we establish meaningful relationships with students. Many students no longer respect us simply because we are teachers and contain knowledge they need to have. They respond to us because we respect them, demonstrate our concern for their entire well-being, and personalize their learning. In short, we show that we like them and are happy to have them in our class!

Third, we make the learning relevant to our students. With the wealth of technology at their fingertips, kids can easily turn off the voices that don’t interest them or the ones that don’t seem applicable to their life situations. They can just as easily tune us out.

Finally, learning must be fun. That doesn’t mean we need to put on a circus act with every lesson. But a teacher’s natural curiosity and love for learning new things exudes to students. Remember that we facilitate the learning, guiding students to explore and recognize the wonder of learning.

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About mprater

I'm a recently retired school teacher/administrator continuing to help people grow through personal learning. When not blogging, I do consulting work for schools and organizations, make presentations at conferences, and research for publication. At the same time, I have to set aside enough time to enjoy the "good life" of retirement!
This entry was posted in Student Motivation, Teacher Motivation, Teaching Tips, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to No More Teaching

  1. You are correct that the landscape is quickly changing for education in the US. It might be losing more ground than the rain forests! This along with everything else (good and bad) will necessitate new teaching strategies. Technology will no doubt play a large role in that change but it will be a huge mistake to substitute that for Teachers. Kids today may possibly have more conversations about their first computer as opposed to their first teacher. We have none of these issues here in Peru where we focus our attention. The issues and battle lines are much clearer. Many of the “teachers” here have no teaching certification or the needed skills to effectively teach. There is little to no supervision or standards. Education has been of little importance to this mostly agricultural economy. But …. the times they-are-a-changin’ ojala (hopefully). The new president (Ollanta) has said education is one of his priorities …. vamos aver (we’ll see). If you get bored and ever thought about visiting the most beautiful part of the world, come share your passion and knowledge. If you know of anyone else that may be interested please pass along our website. Check us out at http://www.teachateacher.org and here at http://www.teachateacher.wordpress.com and we’re also on Facebook. Thanks mac

  2. mprater says:

    Thanks for your kind comments, and it was interesting to hear about the challeges you face in Peru. My best wishes are with you as you continue to work to improve the lives of young people.

  3. Constance Dixon says:

    I am a student in EDM310 and we are learning how to incorporate more technology in to the classroom. In the class I have seen first hand the amazing resources that technology can provide for us as teachers.I am also going in to Special Education and technology is so useful in this field. Students are equipped with this resources daily and enjoy using them. As a teacher we can not be afraid to use the resources instead we must embrace them. In doing this we will give the students an enriched learning environment.

  4. mprater says:

    Hi Constance. Thank you for your desire to work with children with special needs. It takes a person with special skills and compassion to teach that population of kids. You are correct that technology is vital, and I welcome your comments. New tools are appearing almost daily that will give us an edge in facilitating learning for students. Keep your passion for learning and it will naturally exude to your students.

  5. My name is Allison Cullars and I am in Edm 310 at the University of South Alabama. I enjoyed reading your post. Technology is growing everyday and us and our students do not need to be left behind in learning the different technology. Teachers never should stop learning. I agree that we need to show our students that we care about them and will do anything to help them. By showing the students we care, they are more than likely to pay more attention to us. I like how you put that “learning must be fun, but that it doesn’t mean we need to put on a circus act with every lesson.” Overall, great post I will defiantly be reading more of your posts.

    • mprater says:

      Thanks for your comments, Allison. Because of budget constraints, most schools will never be on the cutting edge of technology. But we can incorporate technology into students’ natural love for learning and realize that they are growing up in a technology-enriched world that changes the way the learn. My best wishes to you as you pursue your career.

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