Lance Scranton: School Days
By now, a few days or weeks of school have passed and, the “freshness” of the hours spent in school is likely beginning to become a bit stale. I’m entering my 26th year of teaching, and it is just as personally exciting and professionally invigorating as the first year, albeit much less stressful.
I used to have a very reductionist view of education, likely due to the tutelage of many educational theorists who viewed learning as a bank of knowledge that we drew from when we needed. However, as the years pass I am convinced that teaching demands of teachers a variety of approaches to help students learn.
Filling up children with information that they will act upon is how we tend to view our role as teachers and parents. Sometimes it works, but there are other dynamics in place that should be considered when we teach that which we hope younger generations will follow.
Imitation is a word used disparagingly in our culture today, but kids tend to become that which is modeled around them and it places a huge responsibility on adults. A famous athlete once remarked that his job wasn’t to be a role model and many young people (and adults alike) have imitated and embraced that particular attitude. But, like it or not, what we teach is less impactful than our attitudes, behaviors and example.
Learning is what helps us discover who we are and positions us to be for something and directed toward something. We literally can’t not learn because all of us are busy pursuing something and at our very essence we are what fifth century philosopher Augustine described as teleological (the root word telos from where the word goal is derived) creatures meaning that we all live toward some end.
Blaise Pascal, the 17th century mathematician believed that all humans are on a quest, a sort of unconscious journey toward that life which we dream about. He believed that we are all committed to a certain future by how we are living right now.
Students, just like adults, need something to believe in – and look forward to — if quality learning is to take place in our classrooms and in our communities. We all have a vision about how the world ought to be, but it’s more important that how we are living now reflects that future which we hope for because it’s where our children will be living someday.
Stories enrich our lives. We tell them, listen to them, read them, repeat them, write them, watch them on TV, enjoy them in theaters. Stories teach us, entertain us, make us laugh, ease our social situations, and cement our friendships.