Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Inevitable Context

Define “teaching.” Go ahead. I dare ya.

It's amazing how broad the answers are to this question. To define teaching, I figure you could provide any of the following answers reasonably:

A terrible or well-paying job
What people do when they can't do anything else
A waste of time
One of the most important jobs in the history of civilization
A place for saints/villains
A sweet gig with holidays and summers off
A never-ending gig which includes impromptu parent conferences at grocery stores/restaurants/public streets/the bar/the beach/public bathrooms/the mall/the dentist office waiting room/a park/on a train/in a plane/on a boat/with a goat
The reason for the economic downturn
The hope for an economic recovery

Here's my answer:
Teaching is the art of making the unknown knowable, 
the confusing understandable, 
and the meaningless meaningful.

The goal of teaching?  Again, the list is hilarious:
To push kids around
To save the world
To avoid a real job
To save one kid
To share information
To manipulate information
To get paid
To serve society

Here's my answer, and I think it's one of my best and freshest ideas yet-
GREAT teaching (because who needs to read more about bad or mediocre teaching) has one goal: 
to help students find the inevitable context between learner and lesson.

Great teachers know that it's all just a question of time and context.  The kid can learn! One just needs to keep cracking and innovating.

Great teachers are impossible to replace for this reason.  Lessons and instructions can be replicated in books, content can be made into clever films, and classrooms can be made into learning theme parks.  All that stuff can be done synthetically. Robots and stuff.

But-- and this is a big but- the belief that any dummy can and will learn- and the willingness to keep at it, try new tricks, learn new methods, find new jokes, explore new stories, inspire more goosebumps- ah, only a a great teacher can do that.  It makes a great teacher invaluable.  Priceless.  Like the credit card commercial.

Inevitable context! That'll be the name of a great book.
Anyone want to help me publish it?

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