Glasgow educator and blogger, David Muir, wrote yesterday about the product of education versus the process. It’s not an uncommon topic, even going back to my days in education school more than 30 years ago. However, it is probably more relevant now than ever before, as product seems to be THE measure of success today, as students are marched in each year to be measured against some blueprint on what all children at that age must know.
He quotes George Seimens, which I’ll repeat here — but please do go and read David’s perspective. George writes in How Things Change…
“We have designed education to promote certainty (i.e. a state of knowing)…we now need to design education to be adaptable (i.e. a process of knowing).”
This reminded me of something that I’ve been thinking about ever since I watched the movie The Lake House a few weeks ago. I remember thinking, throughout the movie, what a great couple the Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock characters are going to make, when they finally get together. You come to love them as individuals. It’s what makes the movie enjoyable. But, do you get to love the couple that they become. Noooooo!
Last night I watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and you’re rooting for Smith and Saunders, and, at the end, they are an item. But do you get to see the pair that they make. Noooooo!
It’s one of the things that’s hard about teaching. You see the kids. You watch them struggle and succeed, and struggle and continue to struggle. You see them at their best and you see them at their worst. You the character that they are building and you know this is going to be a great person one day. But do you get to see that person — the product. Noooooo!
It is about product, but the product is never a part of the movie. It rarely happens in the classroom either. It happens after — long after your teaching is over. Believing that we can find the success in teaching by measuring what students have memorized in their classes is the height of arrogance, in my opinion. Yet, preparing our children for a future that we can not even describe requires of educators more than we have ever expected before.
We need teachers who do, indeed, have eyes in the backs of their heads. But not so they can watch for flying erasers — but so, while they attend to their students in the classroom, they are simultaneously observing the world in which they live, and from which they are teaching.
We need teachers who will spend the time to grade the papers, or what ever that entails in a digital world — but also teachers who are willing and able to reflect on their assignments and on student responses in a rapidly changing world, where the answers are changing, and there are more and more new questions.
Teachers will continue to call the roll, but what does classroom management look like when geography (where the learner is) means so much less than what their attention is connected to, where the walls are invisible, and the textbooks live.
It is not a time for teacher-technicians, trained lab clerks who observe a deficiency, and prescribe a scientifically researched strategy. It’s a time for teacher-philosophers, who love their world, love what they teach, love their students, and who love what their students will be.
Ctd 2005, “Pupil and Teacher.” Ctd 2005’s Photostream. 1 Nov 2005. 3 Sep 2006 <http://flickr.com/photos/kikisdad/58678055/>.
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