Wednesday, April 6, 2011

From a good friend of mine...

top-down, trickle good man. equal, inclusive, interactive, critical, etc.. is the way to go
The teacher should not be the one who has all the answers which cannot be challenged, as if what she or he says is sacrosanct. Sometimes, we have answers, sometimes we don't. I told my therapist that sometimes I am anxious when I see my master teachers seemingly knowing everything, but I comfort myself in seeing others and myself potentially admitting that yes, we do not have all the answers. Sometimes, humility goes a long way in establishing rapport with students, especially avoiding the whole top-down mentality when it comes to content knowledge. Students may bring what we as teachers feel are misconceptions, that may be true, but could we not allow them to examine evidence that might contradict what they bring, instead of just correcting them and leaving it as that? I wonder if we correct students without giving them a say in defending or challenging their own ideas, do we turn them off when it seems that we are not giving their ideas the respect that an inclusive and critical classroom might?
I guess this is where I feel a bit uncomfortable in presenting ideas as if they are set in stone. As I moved farther along in EDUC 542, I found myself moving away from presenting Big Ideas in the form of statements, even when I had big ideas guide the students' research. The lesson plans I write tend to focus on open-ended questions where there might not be a correct answer. One of the last lesson plans I was working on was a war crimes tribunal that the students would hold, trying the Truman administration on their decision to drop the atomic bomb. It might seem astonishing to hold an American president accountable in this manner, but could this not be an opportunity to model holding the most powerful among us accountable, showing them that they are not above the law? 

What I'm noticing in my scripts, that I should do a better job in framing what I say in the form of questions...such as "Does American exceptionalism mean that what we do is justified and excused simply because we are the good guys?" I realize that yes, that question may itself be biased, but I do not claim to be impartial if I cannot. However, what I can do is to present dilemmas such as the decision to drop the atomic bomb in a form that might allow students to choose sides and then present their arguments in the interest of contributing to the classroom's funds of knowledge where everyone, teacher, students, and everyone else deposits knowledge into a common account.