Tuesday, September 22, 2009

leave those kids alone

Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall expresses the feeling of many kids that teachers are often more interested in keeping kids quiet than teaching. Thus, education becomes a means of "thought control".

Roger Waters, who wrote the song, was a product of the English public schools. And, one of his main ideas was to describe the "walls" that people put up in order to protect themselves. But another subtext was the failure of an English education system that stresses uniformity over education. Hey, we are not making bricks here, are we? Simply put, it is a system that fails to account for either the diversity of, or the needs of - students.

Waters' experience in the school system is not unique. One only has to read of Roald Dahl in Boy:Tales of Childhood or Stephen King in On Writing to see that the experience is not isolated. Teaching is sometimes taught like an Al Qaeda training camp - rigorous, unrelenting, and brutal. Fortunately, positive experiences ate the norm. They are the result of dedicated teachers who teach with passion and understanding.

What makes for outstanding teachers? I am sure that we all have a memory of an outstanding teacher. One who "made a difference" in our lives. The "qualities" of that teacher are not unique. They vary with the needs of each student. But, one universal quality is the ability to impart a new way of seeing the world, of opening eyes and ears and pouring knowledge into a mind. Outstanding teachers "see" the world with the same youthful enthusiasm of their students. They make lesson plans interesting, informative, and relevant. And, being youthful, these outstanding teachers embrace the new technology of their students in a positive way.

"Knowledge is power" says famed management specialist Peter Drucker. And education is the key to opportunities, says our President when addressing community colleges. They are both right. Teachers serve a critical role in spreading knowledge and creating knowledge, so that students don't become just another "brick in the wall".

No comments: