Photo taken by Chris Suderman
In his book Through the children’s gate, Adam Gopnik said this about children:
Children reconnect us to romance. For children, … every day is the first day of love: The passions that for us grown-ups rise and fall only in exceptional circumstances, unexpected storms on the dull normal beach where the tide breaks unchangingly, rise every day for them. Shock, hatred, infatuation: “I hate you,” they cry, slamming the door, and they mean it; and then the door opens fifteen minutes later for dessert. They compel us to see the world as an unusual place again. Sharing a life with them is like sharing a life with lovers, explorers, scientists, pirates, poets. It makes for interesting mornings.
I like this quotation for a few reasons. Firstly, to remind me of the passionate and immediate nature of young people. If at school they seem indifferent, apathetic, unengaged, then we need to ask ourselves why. We look to ourselves and what we are doing as teachers to make them behave in a way which is actually contrary to their nature.
Secondly, this passage tells me what we can gain from being with young people, what we can learn from them. Our role as teachers is not to ‘teach’ them in the sense of pouring into them what we know better, it is to listen, to bring out, to – with time, the time it takes to know a person – understand where their interests lie, what their passions are, how we can harness their dreams to educational opportunities. We provide the environment, teach skills, encourage and guide, but we work with the unknown – the unknown possibilities of what each young person is yet to create, to achieve.
As I think about returning to school soon, starting along that well worn cyclical path again, I’m gathering together the technology tools that I look forward to using with students, but I’m not thinking about the technology – I’m thinking about the process, the learning and teaching process that will take place. This year I’d like to focus on providing learning experiences which are from people, from communities, learning not from static texts but from living, thinking people – some from other hemispheres – from conversations, comparisons, real discoveries. I’m hoping that this year’s learning will not come solely from one teacher. The net will be cast wide. What treasures will be collected in the net?