I was reviewing a blog entry the other day and found myself chuckling at a statement I read. Maryellen Weimer was discussing the way we learn versus the way we teach. And it was the visual image that she gave in her summary that captured my attention.
In the post, she challenged to consider the type of learning that changes thinking, that modifies behavior, and sends one into a new trajectory. And then I read the imagery that caused me to pause: “Too often we give up on this really important level of learning, wandering instead in the forest of content details.”
As one who loves to backpack and be out in God’s astounding creation, this statement resonated with me. Why? Because I have lost my way in the forest before and became easily worn out and quickly lost the enjoyment of the journey.
So it is when we focus ourselves too much on the content rather than on the student. As with the forest, the joy of the journey can become tedious and mundane when we look to produce the quantity that we feel must occur in the classroom.
I am more aligned with the thoughts of Paul Ramsden, who intrigued me with this notion of education: “…learning should be seen as a qualitative change in a person’s way of seeing, experiencing, understanding, conceptualizing something in the real world – rather than as a quantitative change in the amount of knowledge someone possesses.”
The truth is, my teaching friends, that most of what we teach can readily be found on a smart phone in under a minute. So does that make the teacher obsolete? Most definitely not. Rather, in my opinion, it raises the stakes of the value of the teacher in the classroom. Why? Because in a sea of learning, our role is to help our students create bridges of authentic meaning among the myriad islands of information that are presented to them.
We live in an age of connection and we would serve our students well if we would focus more on connecting our information to our learners such that eyes are opened, thinking is aroused, and lives are changed. Our students need more skills in how to interpret the world rather than the mere facts that exist within the world.
Community Input: What are you intentionally doing in your class that speaks more to the qualitative than the quantitative?