Sunday, February 12, 2006

The light at the end of the tunnel

Originally uploaded by Liberté, Égalité, Safari.
I'd like to say I see the blinding light at the end of the tunnel.

But, I don't see the light. Perhaps I'm not looking in the right direction.

I've moved past the enthusiasm of the early part of the search, and seem to dread the long haul that's in front of me. Or, perhaps I'm just blinded by the snow. ;-)

So, if you gathered, we seem to be at something of a stand still, at least on my end. I haven't heard a thing from anyone in days; there's a part of me that is thinking David Rath's recent dissertation on faculty turnover at independent schools was too much on the mark; his research indicated stability in most faculties with a dearth of openings this recruiting season.

I've continued thinking about my philosophy of education and, particularly, the role of adults in an independent, secondary, boarding school.

I view all adults in the school community as "teachers," but I don't see teachers as people who serve up facts and tidbits. I see teachers as coaches and facilitators. I buy into the notion that teenagers learn best when they are engaged and actively involved. Some schools base their curriculums on "experiential learning" or "five senses learning." (See Leelanau or Baylor or Scattergood for example) In truth, there should likely be some aspect of experience in every school.

Years ago, while suffering through an education course in graduate school, I learned about pedagogy; pedagogy, we learn, is "the art and science of educating children" and is often used as a "synonym for teaching. Today, pedagogy is the term which more accurately "embodies teacher-focused education." The teacher is the expert. Students receive; teachers send out the message. When most of us think of teacher this is the model we likely think about: the teacher standing in front of the class, all the students in their chairs in neat rows & paying close attention, and the teacher presenting the information.

Recently, while actively engaged in another education class, I learned about andragogy, which some have taken to mean "the art and science of helping adults learn," but more aptly refers to "learner-focused education for people of all ages." When a teacher comes at learning from an andragogic perspective, things look much different. There's more hands on, there's more group work, there's more student presentations, there's more chaos, there's more active learning.

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." Attributed to Einstein, this sums up what I see as the role of a teacher. We excite; we guide.

Perhaps most important is the notion that learning is not preparation for life or some aspect of life (for instance, preparation for college), but, rather, learning is life.

All of us are learners; some of us just happen to have the title of teacher.

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