Tuesday, August 27, 2013

To Teach is to Change is to Grow

I believe that at its fundamental level, all teaching revolves around the concept of change. Change of the self, of the student, of the act--those are crucial for all types of learning, and through that change, comes growth. Let me explain:

Heh. Apple. Get it?
Teachers are the guardians of transformation. During the most tumultuous time--youth-- teachers are there, for many hours a day, as oftentimes the only adult with the possibility of extended adult influence outside of parents. I don’t think we, as a nation and as a people, realize that invaluable potential for growth, and the importance of our teachers to the future of our children. A good teacher can provide the spark that starts the fulfillment of a student’s goals, aspirations, and desires. A bad one can be equally devastating. And so, when people say that anyone can teach, I say, true, it doesn’t take a particularly special type of individual to stand in front of the room and assume the position of a teacher. But to not only be present, to be alive in and with the room, to inspire the thirst for knowledge in a group of often uninterested, misguided, or apathetic students--that is quintessential to a good teacher. And such a positive influence, responsible for so many future voters, citizens, workers, and creators can work wonders in the long run, even if it is not immediately apparent in the short run. In this way, teachers are the harbinger of change.

And that is what a teacher must embody. A common contemporary issue in education is how our education system can properly prepare the students for the adult world, considering the fact that we often have no clue what this world will look like down the line, or even what it will look like at the end of next week. So, I say to the teachers of the world, and to the administrators, and to the communities and parents, teachers must embrace change. They must be second students of change the same way our students, our children, have been born into it. To remain a stagnant rock in a river means eroding away. It is a mistaken belief that the world is stagnant, and that the students must be shaped, much like putty, to fill the box that has been pre-made for them. To say that teachers must prepare the students for the adult world is ignoring one crucial fact: that, although we are all participants in it, they have the capacity to become the creators of that world; they have the capacity to create their own box, to solve the problems of their world--and each and every one of our students deserves that chance.

All of this may seem overwhelming. What is one teacher, a small cog in a looming system, to do? The answer, unfortunately, is that there are countless struggles, both in and out of the classroom that stand in the way. But that doesn’t mean teachers cannot embrace change now. That doesn’t mean that teachers, as individuals, can’t create lasting impact within these confines. Teachers cannot lose hope, or be worn down; that is imperative. And what does embracing change look like in the contemporary classroom experience? It means allowing students the room to grow in whatever capacity they view as genuinely useful, even if teachers can’t understand the immediate value of it. It means assuming the values that they, as a student body, assume. For example, if digital literacy is a growing part of their world, and our democratized, participatory culture, who are teachers to deny in the classroom that which is essential to the lives of their students?

Students will be stubborn. They, as a whole, have grown weary from the system of public education. They have grown tired of being told what to think, and how their thoughts are unimportant, misguided, or irrelevant. While it is true that not each and every one of a student’s varied desires are worth pursuing in the long run, it is nothing short of a tragedy when a student is convinced that their desires on the whole are without merit. But a simple act, a change of stance, a willingness to embrace the fact that the world is changing and that our students are changing in ways that we sometimes can’t understand, is the first step in a long, arduous, but invaluable journey to becoming a good teacher.


  1. This was such a motivational and inspirational blog. Thanks for writing it by the way. Anyway, when you said "that, although we are all participants in it, they have the capacity to become the creators of that world; they have the capacity to create their own box, to solve the problems of their world--and each and every one of our students deserves that chance", it reminded me of one of the reading we had to read for this week: the inquiry approach to teaching writing.

    With such mindset that students have the capacity to create their own box and solve the problems of their world, our classrooms have more than enough reasons to embrace change, meaning that teachers need to leave the traditional classrooms behind and incorporate the "right" classrooms for the children of the new generation. I think the inquiry approach would be a very helpful practice for the students because they will learn how to read the given texts and generate what they want to do with them on their own, creating their own box and solving problems of their own world. It may seem difficult to embrace the change or to create such innovative, student-generated lesson plans for now at least, but I do feel the need for change as well for the students and for "the future voters, citizens, workers, and creators."

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