"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was and never will be...nor can they be safe with them without information. Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe." – Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Scripted Teaching

After 30 years of teaching I have watched a lot of teachers teach. I've seen good teachers and bad...exciting teachers and dull...quiet teachers and loud...dedicated teachers and indifferent.

But one thing that is true about every single person into whose classroom I've stepped...each teacher I've observed has brought something unique to his or her students...something of themselves which no one else could possibly bring.

And it's not just the uniqueness of his or her personality, though that's important...it's also the uniqueness of each teacher's teaching style. For example:

I've never seen anyone with the creativity of Mr. X. He created magic with his children as they explored the world through fascinated eyes. He used words designed to excite his students and they responded with excited vocabulary of their own.

There are very few teachers who have the quiet manner and kind demeanor of Mrs. Y. She has tamed the wildest child, eased hurts, calmed angers, and reached through frustrations to help each child achieve her highest potential. Her words were soothing, gentle, and encouraging. In her class children responded to nurturing by helping each other. They learned to use her calming words with their friends.

Mrs. Z. had more enthusiasm than anyone I've ever seen. She carried her primary students through singing, dancing, clapping, laughing, and running to the enjoyment of literacy and the thrill of learning. Her words captivated her students...and the children absorbed her excitement as she taught them to express themselves with feeling.

Every teacher brings their own gifts to their students. Each of us has something to offer our students as we talk and work with them day after day. Scripted teaching, saying what is written on a page that someone else has written because they claim it's the only way to get children to learn, takes away that uniqueness, even if only for a short time. It deadens the energy in the classroom and reduces the teacher to an emotionless robot.

Plato and Socrates were dynamic teachers not solely because of what they taught, but because of how they taught. How teachers teach exposes children to the myriad of personalities which people our world. How teachers teach has the potential to reach the most unteachable student and the most unwilling learner. Scripted instruction does none of that. It smothers a teacher's personality in someone else's words.

If we all approached teaching the same way, used the same techniques and the same words, we would lose the essence of why we use people to teach instead of computers. Isaac Asimov's short story "The Fun They Had" describes a society in which children learn from a computer called a teacher. Everyone learns the same thing in the same way. The point of the story is that there is something important in the natural interaction between adult and child. Scripted teaching removes that and demeans the humanity of teachers and learners.

1 comment:

roger said...

u done good