Today, my colleague and I had a truly authentic conversation about our job as a teacher. She told me that she was embarrassed to say that at one time she felt that elementary teachers taught students and high school teachers taught content. For some, secondary teachers are thought of as content curators – people who sift through curriculum and present it in a meaningful way. In theory this sounds great, students come to my chemistry class learn chemistry and leave. Is this a reality though?
In my philosophy of education, I have written, “I teach students how to learn, not what to learn”. This philosophy directly aligns with my colleagues that we teach students, not subjects. During the past month of my PSIII I have found that it is extremely easy to fall into the trap of time (or lack thereof) and when teachers feel the crunch, we tend to push through the content forgetting the true purpose of education.
Take a moment and think back to your high school science class, what do you remember? If science was of particular interest to you in high school then you probably remember more than the average person. For most people, they remember the discussions that were had about science that pertains to real life, the demonstrations or the activities in class – the theoretical science is lost on them post school.
So now I ask, have we failed them as teachers if they don’t remember, “LEO says GER”? We have only failed if our students cannot articulate any learning from our class. Did they learn to think critically, how to analyze a scientific issue or research, present their own opinion in a respectful and clear manner? If so, we’ve done our job. A huge part of grade school is learning how to learn, growing as an individual, preparing for life (whether that be a job, or post secondary).
As I said earlier, as a teacher it’s scary how easy it is to fall into the dark tunnel of content focused teaching. However, through continuous interaction with students and fellow teachers I am seeing the importance of being less rigid and more fluid in my teaching, so that I ensure my students leave my classroom with the necessary skills to allow them to be successful in the future, what ever that may bring.
Until next time,