Teaching to Whom?

We have to ask ourselves to whom are we teaching? If you are a 48 year old male who thinks history is a fascinating subject isn’t that enough? It used to be. But no longer. Now we must not only educate, but entertain. I certainly do not think that we should be boring on purpose: e.g. worksheet after worksheet. The scene from the movie Teachers in the 80’s where the old teacher has the “most orderly classroom” in the school but teaches nothing because his students merely drudge in an fill out a worksheet and then drudge out of class. Is it any wonder that when he has a heart attack in class and dies, no one notices?

Years ago before the ubiquitous use of technology, an interesting teacher who had a passion for their subject was all you needed. Now I wonder.  How can I can compete with big screen TV’s, Xbox, PS3, portable gaming devices and of course the cell phone?  I can not even keep my own teachers engaged for a 30 minute meeting without them using their cell phone.  So what do we do?  The common theory among our experts is to not be the “Sage on the Stage” any longer.  In other words, we can’t be the experts in our field who tell our students about our subject. But is this wise?

I attend several conferences that teach us how use groups more effectively.  One conference promises that if we just use cooperative learning then all of our problems will be solved.  Never mind that little Johnny can’t multiply one digit numbers in 7th grade or find the US on a map.  Does it really matter how well we teach if we are teaching nothing?  I can’t learn from someone who doesn’t know anything, regardless of how good a teacher they may be.  So I go back to my first thought: isn’t a 48 year old motivated male who is passionate for his discipline all we need?

I think we have sacrificed the meat for the dessert
.  You cannot have someone teaching students using the latest methods who doesn’t know the material.  We have kids who don’t know anything about math or science or history.  I mean next to nothing.  It doesn’t matter how much I stand on my head, this kid is lost.  So I ask you the question: to whom are we teaching?  We must know our audience and adapt to their needs and where they are.  I think we could use a little “sage on the stage” in this day and age, because what we are doing ain’t working!  More tomorrow, until then, peace.

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