Like I said in my last post, I’m reading American Schools: The Art of Creating a Democratic Learning Community by Sam Chaltain. I’ve been really busy and just read the Prologue today. Chaltain has some very insightful questions and thoughts to really bring things forward in your mind. One question he asked was:
“In one word, what does it mean to be an American?” Some answers that I received on my PLN were: lucky, free, blessed, privileged, independent. Chaltain said that most people would say “freedom”. What is freedom though? Do all the answers I received fit into that category?
“If there were only one thing you’d want our public schools to achieve, what would it be?” Some answers from my PLN: “Teach students how to be autonomous learners”, “Learn how to learn”, “teach students how to think for themselves and to love to exlore and learn”, “to love learning and think independently”. Chaltain went on to say “To help all young people aquire the skills and self-confidence they need to be visible in the word.” (Chaltain, p. 7)
All of this is great information and I feel that we all as teachers have the same thoughts about education. We want students to learn for themselves and to think for themselves. Then we want them to be able to share what they have learned. They need and want to be heard! So how can we do this?
I feel that first of all, we as educators need to take the time to listen to each of our students when they have something they want to tell us. I know that we are busy and have difficulty doing so, but be careful not to push people away. Make sure that they have a chance to share and have your undivided attention. They feel that what they want to say is very important and worthwhile to tell. Make sure you understand that.
I’m really excited to read more into this book and Sam’s thoughts. I think that he has some great insight into how we can make education better. We do not need the fear of having an anonymous student from the Communist Party sitting in our classrooms to make sure that our conversations are “within guidelines” as China does. (Chaltain, p. 5) We need to be free to speak freely and let the students do the same.
There is a lot of fear in our education system in America right now. I hope that this book will help open my eyes to what I can do better as well as your eyes.