Some thoughts on teaching

Sep 30, 2014 by

Kenneth J. Bernstein – This past weekend I spent almost ten hours reading, commenting upon and correcting student papers. I teach freshman in Government (including one section of AP) and seniors in AP Government (3 sections). While the skill level and maturity of course varies, one thing that is unfortunately common is that they have little experience of thinking outside the box and of supporting an argument. That is part of my task as their teacher.

They also are often very weak in grammar and usage, which interferes with their ability to communicate a point of view with forcefulness.

I am demanding yet also forgiving – I have to lay down markers of expectations, but then give them time to adjust, and support when they struggle.

None of this has anything to do with test scores.

It has little if anything to do with Common Core.

Yet it is absolutely essential. In involves recognizing each student as the absolutely unique and talented individual s/he is and affirming that.

Educere – to lead out – something of essence that already exists inside the student, but which needs to be affirmed and nurtured.

This is what teaching is really about, not about test scores.

It is because I focus on the student first that I am able to reach far more than were I to focus on how well they did on the latest ridiculous external high stakes test.

Perhaps because they experience that, many students ask me to write their recommendations.

Perhaps that is why dozens of those I have taught over an 18 year career are now themselves teachers.

It is certainly why I have been nominated for a national teaching award – just being nominated is an honor, and I will be surprised should anything more happen, which is why I am comfortable mentioning it.

Teaching like this is time consuming. It can be very draining, especially for one like me in his late 60s.

But it keeps me alive, even if it keeps me from being here as much as I might like.

Peace.

via Some thoughts on teaching.

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