Thursday, September 18, 2014

Reflective Teaching Day 18: Teaching philosophy: Training Jedis

Teaching is like training a Jedi

 "You must unlearn what you have learned."

Luke: "I can't believe it."
Yoda: "That is why you fail."

"Truly wonderful the mind of a child is."

     Yea. I went with Star Wars. But it fits. Whether it's teaching a young teen like Anakin or a slightly older Luke, teaching is dealing with teens who have the power within them, but are not in control yet and don't know how to use them properly. What I usually do is read today's prompt in the am when I get out of bed and then to think about it as the day goes on. The longer I thought about this particular prompt, the more my answer seemed to make more and more sense. 
     There is always two sides to the force: the light side of Yoda and the Dark Side of Darth Vader. So I feel that I am fighting against the Dark Side: whether it represents ignorance or students taking the easy way out (which Luke tries to do on Dagoba) and not pushing themselves to try harder, to dive into the deeper end of the pool.
     While Yoda talks in such a way that might confuse students today "You must unlearn what you have learned" his approach is one that I believe teachers should embrace: using questions and inquiry rather than direct instruction all the time. Teachers shouldn't allow students to say "I'll try it." As a teacher, you should use the retort of Yoda: "Do or do not, there is no try." Just do it! Don't say you are going to try, because implicit in that word is that you might fail. We need to encourage students to do, not just try. Also, showing students how to learn, not just telling them, is exactly what Yoda does. So while his word choice might be confusing, his approach and method are not. 
     I have always found the approach to teaching Jedis to harness their power both a body and mind dualism approach. Sure Jedis have amazing physical skills, but they also have very powerful mental abilities too. "These aren't the droids you are looking for." However, those powers are untapped and potentially dangerous. (See Anakin Skywalker who starts good and turns into Vader) While none of our students are potential dangerous with the knowledge they could be taught, I still believe that left untapped, that lack of potential is something we should not see.  Unlike the Jedi who only choose to teach a select few, every young padawan that walks into my room has that potential. My job and any school's job is to find out how to tap into that potential.
     While I don't want every single kid to leave my classroom and turn into a teacher, I still want them to use that knowledge in one form or another to help others. Padawans turn into Jedis who then can pass that knowledge on by becoming a teacher to others. Think about that potential: having our students passing on (paying forward) the tapped into potential that we awoke in them to others. Isn't that the goal of education?

Mind what you have learned. Save you it can ----Yoda 

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