Monday, October 31, 2011
Blog Post #10
Do You Teach Or Do You Educate?
I have actually been looking forward to writing this blog post. I was browsing the list of posts for the semester a few weeks back when I saw the video titled, "Do you teach or do you educate?" I have always believed that these two words might be synonyms; however, they are not interchangeable terms. The verb to teach gives a much more rigid connotation of learning than to educate. When studying the definition given in this video of "to teach," I felt as though this definition conveyed teaching as a boring profession, thus making learning a boring task for children. Educating is not about drilling facts into the students. Educating, as defined by google is "to give intellectual, moral, and social instruction to someone (especially a child.)" As educators, it is our job and hopefully our desire to build well rounded, thoughtful, upstanding children and instill in them an excitement to learn.
I hope to be known as an educator to my students, instead of just their 2nd or 3rd grade teacher. As this powerful video states, to be an effective educator one must "illuminate, inspire, and empower." I do not want to lose focus on the academic content my students should be gaining knowledge of in my classroom; I would simply like to present it in a way that excites them to learn it. I don't know all the ways I plan to do this yet, but I do know that this class has given me ample tools to answer that question. I hope to continue to learn and keep my educating fire lit in order to constantly have new ideas to inspire my children.
I also do not believe that educating focuses solely on the content at hand. I believe educating combines character building as well. This should be the fun part of teaching for us in the biz! We get to play with our students, nurture them, and guide them. This part of the profession can be so rewarding if done properly. The teachers I remember most are the ones who were there for me, who gave me sound advice, and guided me through a rough spot (whether it be with the subject matter or an area totally unrelated to academics). To educate is not to simply give students the information and let it fester in their minds; it is to show them how to find it, use it, and relate to it. There are numerous resources available that give children the ability to search for information, as well as tools for the teacher that will allow us to make learning more involved and interactive. I also believe it is key in educating for us to use these tools to the very best of our advantage in order to provide a valuable learning experience for everyone! This will further the character building by conveying the message that everyone's experience matters equally and no matter what the student's hinderance, he or she CAN and should learn in a fun environment.
Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home.
Funnily enough, when I first began reading Mr. Spencer's blog post, I could actually see an issue with students carrying pencils in their pockets (depending on the age, of course). I know my son is a little young to use as a reference, but whenever he gets a hold of a pencil, it's moments before he starts trying to poke himself in the nose or ear with it. I would have never dreamed that the issue this administrator was wishing to discuss was related to simply not using pencils because of test scores. That really makes about as little sense as having puppy dogs teach our students. I can't follow this logic to save my life. First of all, I should state that I don't entirely follow the logic of standardized tests to begin with, but that is a conversation for another day. Tom Johnson is very clear that he believes in exciting students to want to learn through whatever methods possible. He wants students to realize that learning can ignite a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm. Students will only see this if education is delivered in a fun and interactive way. Pencils are not his main point. He is a very creative man, and that is exactly what our education field is in great need of. He is simply using a tool (a very common and inexpensive tool) to provoke a passion for learning.
The first point I noticed in this blog post was the complete unwillingness for change and further learning by Gertrude. Her statement, "It is what it is," is a perfect example of an administrator with no desire to understand the rules she is given. "If we don't know, let's find out," as a wise man once told me. Gertrude does not want to find out. She wants to coast along playing by the rules and thus adding no depth or flavor to her children's learning experience.
Mr. Johnson however, believes in reaching to the peaks of mountains to find a tool to enhance his children's desire to learn. He doesn't care what the tool is, only that it empowers his students to continue learning inside and outside of the classroom. I really enjoy his approach that students in low income areas consider pencils entertainment. He is trying to convey to his students that pencils can be used for entertainment and that entertainment can be educational as well. Hang Man may have an offensive title, but that's easy to change. Alter the game so the students are watching a flower grown instead of hanging a man, and VOILA! it's a beautiful game that could teach the parts of a flower and how to spell a word.
Mr. Johnson also brings up a good point to Gertrude when he questions her need for pencil accountability in the household. He doesn't believe that he needs to hold them accountable because he has enough faith in the projects he is providing for outside classwork and is also open to the projects they create on their own.
I really enjoy the constant learning, free thinking, yet still structured approach Mr. Spencer/Johnson takes on education as a whole and am really excited to add him to my PLN!