If you were on a train about to cross a bridge, would you expect the engineers that designed the trestle to know how trains work? If you were about to go into surgery, would you expect that the doctors and nurses knew how the human body worked?
When you go into a school, do you trust that the teachers know how students learn?
Greg Noack a well-regarded educator tweeted: Why is it that, the more I learn and meditate on HOW kids learn, not what they learn. The less I have in common with other teachers. This prompted David Warlick to write a post that I read, and now here I go :-):
Greg's words scare me because they suggest a classic industrial age "I just work here" mentality that I didn't think was in teachers. I have to believe that no primary/secondary teacher went into this profession for the money or the work-life balance. They went because they were called. If teaching is/was a calling for me, I think I'd want/need to be as insightful as possible on the question Greg asked. I'd expect every teacher to be that way.
David and his commenters' takes are slightly different: when most teachers were students, there was a dearth of information, today there is overload; the world (comparatively) is moving much more quickly; teachers are preparing their students for a vastly different reality from the one they know and understand.
David (and team)'s words scare me - if they really believe this then they are not the great teachers I believe them to be.
Can you think of a generation that was less complicated than the one that preceded it? Think of each successive decade from say the 1950s (I presume most practicing teachers were born in or after 1950) - can you name three things that made each decade complicated, difficult and more fraught? How about (in no particular order) the Cold, Vietnam and Gulf Wars, the Swinging 60s, the Kennedy assassinations, women's rights, civil rights, gay rights, telephones, television to name but ten? Each of these was pretty socially cataclysmic, each foretold a future dramatically different from that present. Yet we survived, and thrived.
Every dissenter is going to use the "ya-but" defense, in most cases saying that this time it's different, but let's face it - life is change, life requires change, and life relishes change. If it were not so, we'd still be living in caves.
David used these words: "We are recognizing that our students will be moving from their formal education into a world that we can hardly imagine." The future today is just as uncertain as it was yesterday; the only difference is that we know how yesterday turned out.
Sure we're all susceptible to bouts of doubt, but really, there has never been a time when teaching was not about learning, nor has there been a time when teachers knew exactly what the future held for their students.
This is the reason that we send our children to schools - to prepare them in the best way possible for whatever tomorrow comes their way. Our teachers have always done this and will need to always keep doing this. In every time there will be uncertainty - we have to prepare every child for their destinies in the best way we know how.
I think it's important to worry about whether we're up to the task for anything; but we don't make excuses, we don't just aspire to do it better, we actually work on doing it better. That's why it's a calling.