Thursday, March 13, 2008

Teaching, No Greater Call

I love teaching. I always have. I always will.

Because I’ve been thinking so much lately about the process of teaching and learning, I’d like to share some thoughts and ideas on the subject. Some are my own, most are from my collection of master teachers.

“When we study how Jesus taught, we might note that He employed one principle of teaching more than any other. …Educators refer to it as the principle of apperception.

Apperception is defined as “the process of understanding something perceived in terms of previous experience.” This means that if we have something difficult to teach, such as honesty or reverence or love, we should begin with the experience of the student and talk about the things he already knows. Then when we make a comparison with what we want him to know, he will perceive the meaning.

Jesus was indeed the master of this process. “
--Boyd K. Packer, “Using the Apperception Principle in Teaching,” Tambuli, Aug 1977, 31

“Excellent teachers do not take the credit for the learning and growth of those they teach. Like gardeners who plant and tend crops, they strive to create the best possible conditions for learning. Then they give thanks to God when they see the progress of those they teach. Paul wrote, “Neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).- From Teaching, No Greater Call

The name of our school, and school motto, come from this quotation from Albert Einstein:
“To wonder is to begin to understand.”
Anyone who has ever watched a small child explore their world will have no trouble understanding why I love that quote. The light that shines, first in their eyes, and then spreading to their whole face, is such an amazingly visible outward sign of the inner wonder and understanding they gain as they learn. Our goal is to not let go of the wonder!!

So, this is my job description, in part:

"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." --Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

"Who dares to teach must never cease to learn." -- John Cotton Dana

"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives." -- Clay P. Bedford

"The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards." - Anatole France

If you want to learn, because you wonder about something, you WILL learn. Unfortunately, there is also this:
"It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education”. --Albert Einstein
No matter where a child spends the day, they are permanently affected by their teacher/s:
"A teacher affects eternity – s/he can never tell, where her/his influence stops." -- Henry Brooks Adams
There are days when my influence isn’t as “wonder-ful” as it should be. There are other days when learning seems to grind to a complete halt. Those days are fewer now, though, than they've ever been. We’re all working together to keep a joyful spirit in our home, and that makes all the difference on the more challenging days. It doesn't take as long, these days, to get our little train back on track and headed in the right direction.

"The ultimate goal of the educational system is to shift to the individual the burden of pursing his own education. This will not be a widely shared pursuit until we get over our odd conviction that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else." -- John William Gardner

"You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it for himself." --Galileo Galilei

"A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary." -- Thomas Carruthers

“Give a man a fish, feed him for a day; teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime; teach a man to teach others to fish, feed a generation.” – Chinese Proverb

“Teach a man to fish indeed. But don't take his pole away and snap it over your knee if he doesn't fish exactly the way you want him to. And if you want to do even better, teach a man to teach others to fish.” – Unknown

"...since we can't know what knowledge will be most needed in the future, it is senseless to try to teach it in advance. Instead, we should try to turn out people who love learning so much and learn so well that they will be able to learn whatever needs to be learned." - John Holt

"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn is hammering on a cold iron." -- Horace Mann

“An understanding heart is everything in a teacher, and cannot be esteemed highly enough. One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feeling. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child." -- Carl Gustav Jung

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” --William Arthur Ward
The Master Teacher is Jesus, whose example, life, and resurrection we celebrate this month.

I’ll close with a quote from a children’s song, written by Janice Kapp Perry.

“I’m trying to be like Jesus.”

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