Teaching Is Not About Knowing (Anymore)

The most fundamental thing to understand about teaching today is that it's not about you (the teacher). Old school thinking (organizing, being) was modeled after the management/labor paradigm. Classrooms resembled this paradigm as well, with teachers as the "knowledge owners" with obedient/compliant students "receiving" information.

I started writing about this 3 years ago-about the need to change how things are done in schools:

Schooling is sometimes described as something DONE to children. School often doesn’t seem a place where students are encouraged to learn at their own pace and in their own way-especially in the climate of standardized testing.

Teens (humans!) crave real connections. This is difficult to achieve given large class sizes and methodologies designed to teach “the class”. Many get left behind in this type of educational climate. Research (and now policy) is pointing to the fact that too many students are not “being attended to” in schools/classrooms. Scores of books have been written lately (many published by ASCD) that have as their premise the need to differentiate instruction to meet the needs/interests/learning styles of ALL students.

Technology has advanced so quickly in the last decade and the latest offerings are truly disruptive to the dominant paradigms in education (teacher as know-er, teacher as isolated 'expert', students as passive/obedient/quiet 'receivers')

Teachers are connecting and sharing information online. Whether they are isolated in their own buildings or not, they are breaking the cycle of isolation because they know that professional learning takes a community--even if that community exists only in cyberspace.

Teachers are recognizing that information is abundant and access to information is nearly instantaneous. That makes EVERYONE an expert and, frankly, should take the load off any (new?) teacher feeling the weight of "having to know everything". It's not about knowing. It's about pointing the way and providing the tools (for students to create, learn, succeed).

With the guidance of this new breed of teachers, students are breaking out of passive roles and becoming teachers themselves-which we know is the best way to learn anyway:

“Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.”

-Chinese proverb
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