Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Time to add to my thoughts on learning and teaching. You may notice that eventually, I'll make the point that one doesn't teach, but the "teacher" is more a facilitator, creating an environment for learning, and opening the subject up to students for their questions, concerns, etc. And the most important part is learning to ask good questions: how to formulate the question, how to organize what replies the question elicits, etc. This is, after all, how we learn, isnt' it? That's what the toddler begins to do, and continues to do through school, unless it is short cicruited by being told "you're wrong", "don't ask such questions", or wait until you're older", or some such.

And the worst part is grades! Someone must fail, in order that some may excell, and the current emphasis upon state testing forces the student to concentrate on "correct" answers, rather than learning.

I truly believe that this is a malady that is affecting the public in general. We haven't been led to formulate good questions, but excpect the news to give us the answers, and then we accept the answers as fact. Without further inquiry.

This is, I think, where so many schools fail their students. And, as you will see, this may well be what is happening to our relationships with others, friends and others alike. Could this have anything to do with a high divorce rate? Could the inability to communicate rationally and thoughfully perhaps lead to irrconcilable problems between a couple who began with such hope, only to descend into recrimmination, etc?

So, here are some more thoughts to consider:


To relate, one must communicate, and
Be communicated with, in turn.
All else is only make-believe, no matter
What the words are. One-way
Messages at best are mere beginnings -
Without response, no communication,
And no relationship can happen. Nor
Will it - frustration and anger - end.

To relate one must listen, must be
Still at times, to hear the words
And feelings of another. And they,
In turn, must also do the same.
Often what one hears or feels from
Students is not what fits the lesson
Plan - at all. So what to do?
The Plan? Relate? Communicate?
To relate one must of softer stuff be made,
Than that which plans and bureaus need.
Flexible and willing to wait; to
Overlook the next line, or paragraph,
In text or syllabus; to include all others
Softly while but one may have a need:
All this and more. More? Yes, most
Certainly, we're near the heart.

To relate, one must communicate,
Listen, and be soft - gentle and
Inclined to wait - but more -
One must care; care about the
Other, whoever that other is; care
About one's self; care about caring
Itself; caring also for the truth;
For beauty and for wisdom.

To relate, then, one must love -
And loving, live and grow along
With others, not against the grain
Of life. And living, loving,
Growing - are these not what
Learning's all about? And if learning,
Then teaching, if it makes sense at
All, means living, loving, relating.
If not, what then does anything mean?
And no wonder the puzzles!
Never mind the labels or the boxes -
I don't love labels, do you?


What is it about curiosity that killed
The cat? I suspect the foolish cat
Asked questions that were not included
In the syllabus. Or perhaps wanted
To know the answers to questions
Too upsetting to the establishment.

The essence of curiosity would seem
To be a child-like love of life,
And constant wonder at the variety
And mystery presented to the senses.
One larger puzzle, yet unboxed and
Without labels - waiting for unraveling.

Child-like wonder - how to keep it
When all the messages are "grow up,
Be mature"? That's tough to do! But
Must be done, else the rest of us
must come undone in our grown-up,
Adult world of being taken in.

To be mature means no longer to be
Taken in by myself - to re-discover
What I knew as a child, and to act
Upon it, responsible for the inquiry
And to its outcome, and to those involved.

Trusting my own questions.
Curiosity gives shape and substance
To the world - the answers are
Always there; it remains to ask
The right questions. All right
Questions are not "good" ones - someone
Might not like them. They might

Challenge another, a regime,
A theology or a leader - and these
Questions are not to be permitted in
The real, adult world - not until
The asker is first provided with the
Proper information. Even in a

Free society! Think about this:
Curiosity and maturity in a
Society that takes pride in Liberty!
That's the point, isn't it? Education
In a free society has become a
Joke. Aren't you curious?


Blogger Jill said...

Bob, there are so many school reform efforts underway. Your experience and knowledge could really be helpful. Have you ever thought about places like the Center for Essential School Reform?

10:56 AM

Blogger Bob said...


Thanks for the continuing dialog! I had thought of becoming a consultant after I retired, but I don't have the fancy paper you need to attract attention and get employed. So I gave that up. I hadn't heard of the CESR, and will have to look into that.


7:13 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

NSU - 4efer, 5210 - rulez

8:40 AM


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