Courage To Teach
If you're a teacher and haven't heard, much less read this book, then stop whatever you are doing and go grab a copy right after finishing with this post. I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this book during the start of my journey as a teacher. There is a lot to be drawn from this book and it's a title that a teacher will need to read and re-read at intervals over the years. At present, I am reading it again for the second time. But here's what sticked with me since it was last read 6 years ago.
It's not how we teach. That is what almost every teacher worries about day to day. It's about conducting a lesson day after day, week after week, term after term, semester after semester.
It's not what we teach. A good number of teachers do bother about what is being taught. Though few concern themselves with what else is taught beyond what grades require.
It's why we teach. This question isn't about what gets you into the classroom everyday. It's about asking why we teach what we teach. In other words, why learn all that content for? Is it just for grades to get into the next institution to get the top job and then climb to the top spot? Or is it something more?
It's who we are. Only a handful ever ask this question. I'll always remember my predecessor, who though just a year my senior, said this, 'I'm first a Geographer, then a teacher'. I'm not entirely sure she caught the significance of what she said though till this day, I still see her living that statement. For me, this statement succinctly expresses what education is about. In the end, we are imparting a little of ourselves onto our students.
In her case, being a Geographer first, then a teacher, meant that the classroom wasn't a place to pick up content, concepts and skills to progress through the levels. It was leaving behind students who could think Geographically, and more than that, feel deeply about Geography. In other words, our modules were designed to leave behind little Geographers. Students whose lives have been touched and changed by the discipline itself.
You've probably experienced that moment before, when the mastery of the discipline didn't just enable you to solve a problem or puzzle but opened your eyes to the world. The world remained the same, but yet seemed different. Not only was your mind opened but your heart couldn't help but be transformed along with the renewal of the mind. It's that moment when everything clicked.
Even then, I've only scratched the surface as our academic background only forms a part of our identities. Who we are is also composed of our character, values and personality. A question for us teachers to reflect from time to time before we enter each class is, who is it that's walking into the classroom today?