Sunday, September 20, 2009

don't shoot the teacher

"Shooting the messenger" describes the act of lashing out at the bearer of unwanted or bad news.

See Shakespeare in Henry IV, part 2

In ancient times, messages were delivered in person. In war a messenger was sent from the enemy camp. On receiving such an overture, the opposition vented anger on the deliverer of the unpopular message, avoiding both the truth of the message and its true author - thus literally killing the messenger. Today, the expression refers to punishment meted out to the person bearing unwanted news, but is ironic as well.

Teachers are the messengers of knowledge. And the message they deliver is one of education. Why is education important?" The answer is that, more than ever, education, and the knowledge it imparts especially computer knowledge, provides opportunities for students which are not as widespread to those without that knowledge. Teachers deliver this message every day to their students - global communication through computer technology is the key to success. One only has to look at the relative advancement of computer based technologies over traditional manufacturing based industries to understand the significance of the computer on everyday life.

But new technologies are not without their detractors. And the messenger of this new technology will bear the frustration and anger of those who do not want to hear the message. One only has to think back to Socrates to be reminded that the punishment is often swift and severe. Yet, the teacher labors on in the pursuit of truth, mindful of the consequences and focused on the task at hand.

We are all teachers of a sort. Whether as parents, spouses, businessmen and women, or simply as good citizens, we interact with others each and every day. We try to teach our children the important and unimportant lessons of life. We support and mentor our spouses through both the happy and difficult periods of life. We are challenged at work. We deal with neighbors and strangers, keeping in mind the lesson that "one should do unto others as you would have them do unto you." And yet, we know that in spite of our efforts, the effort will not always be returned in kind.

New methods of teaching are always slow to come. Like the rain with a storm it begins. First, there are a few drops of those who advance the cause of knowledge, then, the sprinkles become steady as the knowledge is spread and understood, and, finally, their is a torrent of rain as the new technology of learning becomes the standard of education. Today, sitting with my son at Panera, eating breakfast and working at our laptop on a Sunday morning, I felt and saw one of those early rain drops. She was a teacher in her thirties with her laptop open. As I walked by, I saw that she was typing a lesson plan for her students. She typed for 20 or 30 minutes while we ate breakfast, and having finished her work, she closed her laptop and left, smiling at my son and I as she noticed, that we too, were working at our laptop while we ate breakfast.

Encouraged by her example, I finished with my son. And when we walked outside, it began to rain.


The teacher must:

a) keep the discussion focused

b) keep the discussion intellectually responsible

c) stimulate the discussion with questions

d) summarize what has and has not been dealt with and/or resolved

e) draw as many students as possible into the discussion.

Advice from the Lone Star State

No comments: