I am doing it right now. I am not teaching today but all the kids think I am. It is because they have been programmed to believe that what I am doing is actually teaching and, quite frankly, it makes them comfortable, calm and happy. What is this sin that I am committing that looks, feels and smells like teaching but really, really isn’t? Bookwork.
Yes, I said it. Bookwork. It was a weird weekend that culminated when I opened a box with my little executive Swiss Army Knife. I went to put the blade back in and didn’t realize that the knife was upside-down. I pushed what I thought was the back of the blade and sliced deep into my index finger. By the time Monday morning had rolled around, I got out of the car and realized that between the house and work, I had lost my glasses.
OK…it sounds like no big deal. A “just get over it it” sort of day. But I couldn’t think straight for some reason and since I had to cover this stuff anyway, I told the kids to get the book and read Chapter One. And *gasp* do the vocabulary words and the review questions. Definitions and chapter questions. And the kids were OK with it. “It’s about time we did some real school work” was just one response I got.
Real school work? Is that really where we are in this country? My daughter had an Algebra teacher in the 9th grade who decided that the book was a better teacher than he was. She failed. She’s the kind of kid that needs some bio-mechanical learning. “Show one, do one, teach one” is what we used to say in the Navy.
But bookwork isn’t teaching. It’s taking the day off. But the kids are OK with it because they are used to it. When educational success is measured byhigh-stakes testing scores, all most teachers can do is “teach to the test.” Because we all know that if a child fails to perform, it is the fault of the teacher and the teacher alone…right? I mean, there can be no outside influences can there? Or is that like grading dentists on how many cavities their patients get?
So, in order to get back on the teaching treadmill, I will cover the exact same material and then let the kids seminar about the different approaches and tie it all in to communication. I might even let them design the technological classroom of the future.