Sunday, October 14, 2007

To Teach or Not To Teach?

What is teaching? This almost seems like a loaded question! Teaching in itself implies so many different things. I guess at its basic definition it means to give or impart knowledge to someone. However, the act of teaching is synonymous with other crucial words like to coach, to train, to educate, to tutor, etc. Teaching is so much more than a lecture. It’s more than standing in front of the class and talking. And it’s more than just what you talk about. It makes me think of what Francis of Assisi said about the Gospel of Jesus: “Preach the gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” That’s how I feel about teaching. Teaching doesn’t always require “explaining.” Knowledge can be imparted through modeling. Knowledge can also be “learned” through experience.

I guess my definition of teaching sort of runs into my teaching philosophy as well. I don’t mean to belittle the importance of explaining information. Certainly, I plan to do some of that in my classroom. =) But, I fully believe in helping students teach themselves. I suppose that group work, peer editing, and group/class discussions will be an important part of my teaching philosophy. I believe in fostering students’ learning. Experience through failures and successes. Lessons learned by challenge, by critical thinking. I remember the first teacher I had who forced me to think. Really think. He didn’t give me the answers all the time. He showed me how to find the answers myself, and it was the best gift he could have given. That’s what I want to do for my students. I want to help them problem solve and think critically—those are the skills to “teach” because those are the skills they can use and transfer to any situation.

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