There’s a lot of talk right now about how students are naturally curious and want to learn about their world, but the performance-focused atmosphere of school squelches that desire. The concept that child-centered ed reformers are pushing is this: if we give kids more freedom to learn what they want to learn the way they want to learn it, they will eventually master the skills they need to and be successful in school and in life.
I’ve never fully bought into that idea, as much as I like it on a theoretical level. And the more I analyze the behavior of educators, the more I’m convinced it’s not completely true.
Because most educators don’t learn just for the sake of learning. We are just as disengaged and apathetic as the kids are.
Anyone know an educator who went into this field for the money? Of course not. We’re all working in schools because deep down inside somewhere, there’s a desire to make a difference in the lives of kids. There’s some aspect of this field that we are inherently passionate about and are emotionally invested in.
So why are so few educators on Twitter or using social media to expand their repertoire of best practices?
Why don’t they attend conferences regularly, including ones that are totally online and completely free?
Why don’t they read the latest books about educational research and discuss them with others?
Why are so few educators engaged in self-directed professional development in their free time?
Most teachers, coaches, principals, and other school workers that I know in “real life” don’t read professional books or engage in conversations with other educators online. For them, work stays at work whenever possible, and there’s zero crossover to their personal lives if they can help it. They hate the professional development they’re forced to attend but don’t seek out answers to their problems on their own. Some may do a Google search for lesson materials on occasion, but they’re not looking to explore the latest educational trends or find ways to transform the way their students learn with 21st century teaching methods. They just want a printable worksheet to go with tomorrow’s activity.
Education is one of my my primary hobbies and I genuinely enjoy the time I spend reading, writing, and conversing about it. I’ve always been a “teacher nerd” who loved to devour Fountas and Pinnell in my free time and comb the web for new ideas. I realize that not everyone has that personality type, and some people would rather pursue other interests and hobbies in their limited spare time. But if we’re all supposedly curious at heart–and all interested in the field of education on some level–why don’t we all invest in our own professional learning? Where is the natural curiosity and desire to grow?
If we as educators don’t exhibit a desire to learn and improve, how can we expect that of our students?
This post is the closest I’ve ever come to teacher-bashing, and that’s SO not my intention here. Obviously, I’m not talking about YOU–the very fact that you’re reading this proves I’m preaching to the choir, because the 85% of teachers I’m referring to wouldn’t visit my blog, anyway. I’m just feeling a little disheartened and disillusioned with the fact that so many great ideas in education–ideas that could change the world for our students–are just floating around in an echo chamber. What’s the solution? Or more precisely…what’s the problem?