Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Progressivism, Again.

From the Joan Adler of the Green Acres School, via the Washington Post ("Teachers Can Spur Learning by Listening"):
Imagine a classroom where children are saying, "I have an idea! What
will happen if we try to run this motor with three solar panels instead
of just one?" rather than "Do we have to know this for the test?" or
"How am I doing?" In a progressive environment, children are listened
to, and their ideas are considered valuable and worthy of further
consideration or investigation.
A few years back, when I was finishing my master's, we were required to submit our mission statement as part of our teaching portfolio, and I remember mine having a lot to do with grounding my teaching in reality, where my students would leave with something useful, tangible and that made sense to them in their world while still taking a part of mine with them. By saying "my world" I meant the world of what I thought of as the world of knowledge--that which was contained in books.

Reading Adler's quote, it is easy to remember several times since the penning of that mission statement where I did not create that environment, and where that idea of validating student curiosity could have been subjugated by desire to give information. As a matter of fact, my first public school teaching job was partly a basic skills position where I was given six students and asked to do whatever I needed to to get them to pass the GEPA. After I finish here, I am going to dig up that portfolio and that mission statement and give it a good dusting off. What has changed about how I deliver information? I know one thing, it most likely will not exist solely on paper.

Would your fellow teachers or your staff have anything different to emote in their mission statements? How would you revise your mission statement if you were asked to do so?

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