Teachers Changing the Way We Read, Write, Think, and Live
Out with the Old...
For too long, the teacher has stood at the front of the classroom, a monolithic distributor of knowledge. Now, in our ever-expanding and increasingly diverse society, however, teaching is being redefined. Teachers need to participate in the learning process with students so that everyone benefits from the learning process. In his blog, Will Richardson quotes Charles Leadbeater from his “Learning from the Extremes,” stating, “Our best learners will be those who can make ‘not knowing’ useful, who do not need the blueprint, the template, the map, to make a new kind of sense.” If this is true, then today’s teachers may not be armed for the task at hand. For students to truly thrive in this world where education is changing, teachers will have to change as well. Teachers will need to be skilled at learning in this way as well. So, we need ignorant teachers...?
Teachers need to be masters of anything they might teach. However, the fact of the matter is this: we don’t need ignorant teachers. Instead, we need teachers who not only know how to learn but are masters of learning. This translates to being masters of what Leadbeater refers to as “useful ignorance.” Richardson raves about this skill, saying that useful ignorance is “the basis of inquiry, and that type of learning can’t happen unless we give up that we can ‘know’ the answer and that it can be tested in a neat little short answer package.” Inquiry opens up entirely new avenues for discourse in classrooms that, in years past, could easily be shut down being driven by a single, unmoveable way of “knowing.”
...and in with the New
It might be a scary thing at first, but teachers must begin to step away from the antiquated sense of “knowing” that has dominated schools for years. The best way to help students is just to show them how to be students. As teachers become more aware of their own learning, they gain an additional awareness of how they learn that they can impart to students in time. It is this learning about their own learning that makes a good teacher because the ability to know one’s own learning processes enables one to demonstrate those skills to someone else. Once students are master learners themselves, the vast information at their fingertips on a daily basis becomes an even more powerful resource. Simply put, teachers need to start teaching how to learn and unlearning how to “teach.”