Monday, August 06, 2007

Qui docet, discit.....He Who Teaches Learns

Ancora Imparo~~ "I am still learning"
~ Michelangelo

Neil Postman makes this sad observation regarding school children: they enter school as question marks and exit as periods.

Question mark kids are the ones who have an innate, intact sense of curiosity. They are the ones who aren't afraid to challenge textbooks or teachers. And as a teacher, one very serious question it behooves me to ask is, "How can I keep the question mark alive?" Because once dead, curiosity is pretty difficult to resurrect. It's a fearsome responsibility to be entrusted with so delicate a commodity.

I think question marks are most in danger of being erased when I, as teacher, become a period myself: This is the answer. Period. It must be done as I say. Period. You should know this. Period. I am the expert. Period.

It is required of a master teacher that she first and continually be herself a passionate learner. As such, she can identify with her students, taking the posture of a fellow learner and pilgrim on the path of knowledge. When students walk side-by-side on this path with their teacher, learning becomes relational. The dynamics of communication are changed. Instead of meekly receiving information from the"expert", students will come alive and discuss ideas dear to their hearts. Ideas stimulate more questions, revealing a glimpse of another, distant mountain peak of discovery.

Does this mean the teacher abdicates her role as leader? No. Her head start on the journey puts her a little out in front, providing a visible model and road guide for the ones who follow.

Teachers need models, too. I look to Jesus as the ultimate model teacher. Although He existed in the form of God, He willingly emptied Himself of all the privileges He had the right to invoke as deity (Phillipians 2:6-7). He sat in the temple at age 12, in the seat of a learner (Luke 2:46). He both asked questions and gave astounding answers (Luke 2:47). Truly, He was and IS Immanuel, God with us. And that is the most practical of examples: a teacher walking through the dust with His students.

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