Friday, April 6, 2012

Blog Assignment 10

Empty desks in a classroom
Do You Teach or Do You Educate?

After watching the video, Do you teach or do you educate?, I've come to realize that teaching and educating don't mean the same thing. To teach is to give facts - to educate is to give skills. Because of the educational environment, many educators don't educate - they dish out 'must know' facts and figures, but do nothing to foster learning beyond the scope of their quizzes and tests.

When I become an educator, I will be an educator of the sciences - Biology, more precisely. While many students find science interesting, I plan to help them learn more than just how to dissect a frog, or how cells function together to form an organism, or any number of other fascinating things. I intend to use science to impart skills inherent to the very subject - research, problem solving, and a desire to learn more. It would be easy to just plan to have students come into my classroom, take notes on a subject, and go on their way - but that wouldn't be the right thing to do. I'll have to make it interesting - by motivating students to do independent research, to learn more about science than just what I show them; and by representing what they need to know in a hands-on (or otherwise interactive) way. I could also create a blog so that students can collaborate and share information they've researched, to give them even more ownership in the things they've come to understand on their own.

Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home!

In Tom Johnson's post, 'Don't Let Them Take the Pencils Home!', he outlines an exchange he had with a teacher at his school regarding giving pencils to students to take home to do activities.

This teacher did not like the idea of sending pencils home with students. She raised a few (flawed) points - that pencils are interconnected with poor standardized test scores, and that somehow they could use the pencils for something unsavory - even though personally I think Hang-man isn't bad at all. Mr. Johnson rebuts these arguments readily - firstly, are standardized tests a good measure of genuine learning? How can you tell if your students are gaining knowledge by measuring their ability to remember information long enough to put the answers on a page, then forget it? Standardized testing is a silly notion when no student is 'standard'.

Now, to address her argument about using the pencils for things other than learning, Mr Johnson points out that even using pencils for a game of Hang-man could have educational benefits. Also, giving students something worthwhile to work towards, while also giving them trust and freedom, teaches more than just the prescribed activities might. It teaches responsibility, and helps them want to learn even more. While pencils may be used as entertainment in lower income households, by using them for learning, it can be imparted that pencils are useful for more than just drawing - they can also be used to learn.

There is also an underlying idea - that something as simple as a pencil can be used to elicit learning. Being creative and using tools at hand to make an engaging learning environment is up to each one of us - and all of our methods will differ. I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas come forth as we become educators - even if those ideas center around something as simple as a pencil.


  1. Daniel,
    This is a very good blog post. It is well developed, grammatically correct, and thorough. I like your enthusiasm and mindset when it comes to educating your future students. America needs more teachers like the one you wish to become. The state of our countries education is declining and as future educators, it is on us to get it back on track. Keep the motivation and continue to work hard!

    1. Thank you, Robert! I'm excited about the prospect of being a modern educator - but where education will end up if more people don't get with the program is a scary proposition. Since many current teachers nowadays are unwilling to make changes, the only way to fix the system is to replace closed-minded teachers with newer, fresher minds, and revamp the system from the bottom up. It seems like a long road ahead, but we'll get there soon enough.

  2. What else could the pencils symbolize?
    Hint: today's education world.

    1. I'm not really sure what you're getting at... Could you elaborate?