Sunday, April 19, 2009

What Have I Learned? A Response to the REAL Gary's Post

What is the most recent thing I've learned as a teacher? I've been mulling that over since Gary wrote his post and put out the "challenge". I guess I have to haul out my "dirty little secrets" about why I wanted to become a teacher in the first place.

Way back when (1976) when I finally finished my first degree (Arts 4 year, sociology) I began to re-ponder the question..."What do I want to be when I grow up?" I'd had one disastrous (for me) year in the (now defunct) College of Home Economics (I wanted to learn interior design). I'd always said I didn't want to become a teacher; however when I sat down to look at my career options one of the things I always like to do is learn. It seemed to me at that time that teaching was a logical choice to meet that need.

Even though teaching has been difficult (I'm a pretty hardcore introvert) it has met my need to learn (and learn and learn....). Teaching is never dull. If it becomes dull (for me) it means I need to learn something new which has meant going back to university ... in 1981 -82 to study special education, and in 1994 to start a masters in educational communications.

Sometimes I wonder if I'm teaching something new just for the sake of meeting my need for novelty as opposed to being a truly innovative teacher. Am I meeting my students' academic needs or are we just mucking around in the unknown for the sake of doing it? Is it even ethical to depart from the "tried and true" in order to forge new pedagogical territory? My step-daughter has just finished five semesters of medical education; her studying arsenal includes piles of flashcards to prepare her to write multiple choice exams.

. I know I have to follow "the curriculum". My experience and what I have learned from my studies in grad school don't always match up to what "the curriculum" tells me to do. Teaching ro me is a never-ending series of questions, and experiments in order to teach my students effectively.