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4/20/2008

Critical Teaching

In a world where Education has constantly been the subject of change and ridicule, schools fight for the time and opportunity to teach students the new standards and benchmarks creatively.

There has been such an influx of political interruption within the public schools over the past six years. If you really take a look at what has happened through that time period, you might be a
mazed. Is there any room left for students to investigate, or extend their lessons? Are lessons open-ended enough to go off on a tangent and study something closely related?

Wit
h federal education plans being adopted over the past few years, teachers have had to narrow the "roads" they lead their students down. Many teachers are submitting themselves to defeat, and simply teaching toward the tests. This is something that I hope most teachers WILL NOT do. Keep that spark of creativity in your blood. Be the light that inspires your students to want to learn more.

Push the envelope... and foster a desire in their souls that drives them to ask questions: "Why?" "What's the difference?" "How come?" "Does this even matter?"

To teach is not only to present them with the information so that they may learn. To teach is to instill in them a passion for greater knowledge.

Teachers- we need to begin to teach our students critically. The future doctors, lawyers, and teachers shouldn't merely accept things as fact, but need to learn to question why things are the way they are. If they disagree with something, they can make a difference.

Critical teaching, in my own perception, is educating students to prepare them for real life. Another key aspect of critical teaching is presenting tasks to students, and asking them to become activists in some form. The most important concept of all is when students begin to question:

WHY?

What can you do in your classroom?

You can relate things easily to the real world, in all subject areas.

They may ask, "Why am I doing this?" Let your response be, "This is a skill that will help you when you're on your
own."

Write letters, assign p
rojects, build things... these are all ways to teach critically. Let students be active and involved in classwork.

The children are the future. Don't allow them to accept everything as fact. Challenge them to ask questions, and seek greater things. By allowing them to think critically, who knows what great things are in store for the world?

15 Comments:

At 10:28 PM, Blogger zenmoonstar said...

Exellent post! In my decade of teaching international students at the university level, the one thing they invariably would change if they were president of their countries is the rote system of education. And the hyper-competitive testing system for college admission.

In my classes I'd get students up and moving around - talking, engaging, questioning and working as teams on solving a problem or discussing/debating an issue. Always asking Why or Is this important? Or leading them through Socratic questioning rather than giving immediate answers.

My teaching motto was to be the 'guide on the side' most of the time rather than the 'sage on the stage.'

Thanks for your great post. May we all love to learn and learn to love.

peace,
zenmoon

 
At 11:03 PM, Blogger kontan said...

love your post. I would say that with SATP that our teaching is somewhat limited. When I taught US HI, a state testing area, I felt SO rushed to get through the material that I couldn't be as creative as I wanted to be or my students probably needed me to be. It could be SO much fun but we are in a rat race to the end, just to be king rat!

teaching students to think critically, to interpret and apply information is so important.

 
At 11:48 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

Thanks for the thoughts...

anyone else have any input?

 
At 6:56 AM, Blogger Jon said...

Just maybe if the schools would have come up with a better way to ensure our kids were being taught we would have to have all of this standardized testing that is a part of No Child Left Behind that so many people seem to be against. I guess that is the ultimate challenge since so many school districts don't seem to know how to budget their money and always claim to be too short of funds to adequately teach our kids. Sorry, I will step off my soapbox now.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Tachizuno said...

I appreciate your comments Jon.

Any solutions that you can think of?

All schools are different, as are all classrooms. I set high expectations, and take great pride in what I do and what we accomplish.

Personally, the smaller schools are really being hurt by allotted budgets set by each state. Schools are given a set amount per student. That's their operating budget.

I'd have to agree that many simply don't spend as wisely as they should. That's not my area of expertise, so I don't know what to do to improve spending.... each district is different. I would suggest starting with the most important things first, and going from there.

I'd say the kids should come first!

 
At 2:02 PM, Blogger imsmarterthanyou said...

As a current student, I would say the socratic method is a very appropriate method as it gets us to question the answer ourselves. You put the power in our hands, and that only makes the education more intriguing. Hope that helped :).

 
At 9:11 AM, Blogger jessada said...

I am a teacher at an international school in Bangkok, Thailand. This is an EXCEPTIONAL post! Ours is a relatively new school and our owners have just decided to adapt the American system w/ AP, rather than the IB system. This worried me a bit -- the American system is perceived by many of our staff as a bit "stifling". -- Jess.

 
At 6:27 PM, Blogger Callen Damornen said...

This has been a real pet peeve of mine. My daughter was homeschooled for the first few years where I tried to instill in her the tools to think for herself based upon the information given. Then in order to give her a social experience I let her into the public school system where they have been teaching to test. Her self confidence has eroded since. Instead of relying on what she really thinks, she is thinking in a group, pack-mentality before she makes any decision.

Teaching to test is dangerous.


The Right Left

 
At 5:38 PM, Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

I have too many students who simply wait for me to give them the answer to beg to work together where basically one does the work and the rest cheat. I agree with you that students need to think critically and need to learn to explore the content themselves. The book series Habits of Mind explore many of the points you made in your post. I agree with them all.

 
At 10:03 PM, Anonymous kontan said...

Students don't want to think. I sometimes wonder if it isn't that mine don't want to think, but they do not have enough confidence in themselves to think for themselves.

Re: your next post on NCLB

How scary is it that teenagers determine our job security?

 
At 6:48 PM, Blogger Urban School Teacher said...

I stumbled on your blog and read your recent post, as well as the comments, with interest.
It is always fascinating to get the views of other teachers- there is encouragement in the knowledge that we are not alone in our struggles!

I have started blogging very recently as a way of expressing my opinions on the world of work in which we operate. My blog can be found at http://urbanschoolteacherblog.blogspot.com/ Although my initial posts focus mainly on the current unrest among, and recent industrial action by, certain public sector workers in Britain, my future intention is to give an insight in to my daily successes and failures.

Take care,

Mr Teacher.

 
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