One thing that I’ve concluded after a few decades in school systems is they operate with a profound distrust of students. Distrust that left on their own students would want to learn something, even choose to learn.
It’s true. Even the most well-intentioned teachers I speak with have a belief that children need to be cajoled, pushed, prodded and controlled – all so they will do the work and learn something.
This pessimism pervades our profession. I say it without disrespecting the profession and the hard work that is done, day in and day out by teachers who “are there”. Doing more than most in our society to help the future. But a truth is a truth and it is what it is.
Children are the only segment of our population confined against their will. We call it “compulsory education”. I believe the problem begins there, caging our children and making school into a punishment rather than a place you want to go to.
It is sad and based on my own experience I reject this belief, a belief that rests too much within the domain of “power”. You see, if you give the powerless any sort of power, of course, in the short term, they’ll run with it . Students will loaf and be at ease, do little and cruise. But give it time, trust them and show you trust them – they’ll show you what they are made of. It’s true and I’ve seen it.
What we lack in our educational system is patience. We are so, so, reactive. Myopic. And trust is not a short term relationship but something that like faith, lasts and endures. We need to trust students and let them do of their own and follow the path of self-direction. If we don’t, we create widgets, we create citizens who can’t think for themselves, who just follow the leaders ….. and we know where that end – blind obedience.
Do you trust your students? REALLY trust them? I hope so…… I hope we start to give students the freedom to be their own method rather than have them follow our own. Learning is always a path trodden by just one.
I’ll end with a fav. song….. about luv but also about teaching (which is but luv in another dress)
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