What better intent can any educator imagine than creating “life long learners” for any age level? The ideal is to foster learning and curiosity from infancy and hope that a child never loses it. The truth be told, almost all children are curious and want to learn. It’s what happens to them in the guise of education that stifles the innate desire to learn and grow. Oh no, not another “bash the teacher” post.
No, it’s not. The teachers are to be the facilitators of this curiosity. They have their hand on the doorknob waiting to open it at the most appropriate moment for the student to walk through. That being said, parents are the first teachers and have a role in this development, a big one. It is also my belief that most of the stifling of curiosity and lack of motivation happens as a child forges his or her way through life. The wrong word said, harsh criticism and on and on…
So how do teachers, with the help of parents (remember it probably does take a village), show students the relevance of education to life, in specific, to his or her life?
Teachers and parents first of all, must be life long learners themselves. Much is absorbed by example. One is always teaching from their actions and the children are always watching and listening-no matter what you think.
I don’t think there is a parent out there who doesn’t realize there are countless teaching moments. For example, years ago, I was driving my son to his first soccer game. He was four. The team had one practice. He is a child who likes to know what is happening and what to expect, so the questions en route were endless. Always do your best to answer those questions. Never make light of them and if you don’t know, make sure you say, “We will look that up.” I can’t emphasize those thoughts enough. Anyway, back to the questions, one of which was “How do you win this game?” Well there was a huge opportunity that I grabbed for answers, about the question itself and a little about life. Our journey to the field continued, and since my son was in a curious mode, there were more questions.
“What is under the road?’’’ “And, what’s under that?” How do they get there (under the road)?” “Will I get to China if I keep going?”
You get my point. Create curiosity and offer opportunity and you will have education happening all the time—for life.
Much of the job to make children life long learners falls on teachers. It is they who have a license for this job, not the parents. The ‘how to do this’ is not so simple. Many children have had their imagination and curiosity smothered, and in addition, have become grade machines, or least focused on that grades are what matter. It is for the outcome of acquiring and applying knowledge.
Higher education must change. It is debatable whether to start here or finish here, but I think if you reform the programs that are training the teachers and as a result, change the way the teachers do business, you will ultimately reform the system. Teachers must become facilitators instead of distributors of facts. It is scary for them, loss of control and not too neat and tidy. Of course, there are some who are doing this, but for the most part, this type of teaching is not fostered or encouraged by administrators. It just is too risky. If you don’t teach to the test, you may not get a good score. Hmmm….then again, you might.
Teachers must know what students need to know and be able to do. Then, they have to teach students how and where to find this information. Obtaining knowledge and information changes daily with the innovation and development of the Internet. So, considerable and continuous training for teachers is needed. After you find information, students must learn how to know if it is reliable. Then the fun happens. Analyze, communicate, collaborate and create. The goal will be to problem solve and think critically about what you have learned. Can you apply this knowledge to make something new?
If education took the risk to present material this way, (not excluding facts that must be learned), who wouldn’t be a life long learner?