Russell and Duenes

Teaching is about learning

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As I continue to teach I see how important it is for me to keep learning and growing in my subject area if I’m going to be the best teacher possible. Unfortunately, I don’t think the current model for education is set up to provide ample opportunity for teachers to maintain their own learning in the subjects they teach. No doubt many teachers have no interest in learning more. They’ve been teaching the same thing, the same way for years and don’t want to change now. This is a massive problem, but I’ll leave it aside for now.

The problem I’m thinking of is the one faced by teachers like myself who are highly motivated to keep on learning. With all of the administrative and extra-curricular things we’ve got to do, and with the class loads we teach, there is hardly sufficient time to really stay sharp in our own learning. How much time does the average history teacher devote to significantly growing in his or her understanding of history? How much time do English teachers have to read new material which can then be incorporated into their classes and curriculum? And why is not such time built in to the teaching job itself? It seems to me that schools are much more interested in giving us seminars on teaching methods and strategies, which is fine in its measure. But no teaching strategy can make up for a science teacher who hasn’t read and seriously studied anything about science for fifteen years. No conference on teaching modalities is going to help Mr. U.S. History Teacher better understand the establishment and growth of labor unions in the United States so that he can bring the lessons he has learned into the classroom. I’m not advocating some kind of cushy schedule where teachers can spend all sorts of time “doing research.” But certainly teachers need more time to focus on their own learning. Schools clearly don’t believe in it; otherwise our model would change.  Anyone who has ever tried to teach knows, the best teachers are those who are constantly learning themselves.

-D

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Written by Michael Duenes

October 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm

Posted in Duenes, Education

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