A better way to teach our kids

Things are different than when I was in school...and that's a good thing

Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure – as the education reporter here at the Mirror – of speaking to more than a few teachers in our school system.

In this edition of Mike’s Musings, I just wanted to take a moment to say that I love seeing the passion these people have for what they do and how they are passing that passion onto our society’s kids.

What I keep finding myself thinking, when I listen to these teachers speak, is some variation of, “I wish I would have had a teacher like you,” and that makes me sad in one way and overjoyed in another.

Now, I’m not going to say I didn’t have any good teachers when I was growing up. They did what they were supposed to do, after all – at least I think I turned out pretty well after all was said and done.

It’s just that what they were supposed to do wasn’t what teachers are expected to do these days, I don’t think.

When I was in school (primary and secondary, at least) my teachers, it seemed, were there to stand at the front of the room and talk at us.

They were responsible for making sure the information they had been told to pass along was received on the other end, and then they tested us on whether we had “learned” what they had “taught.”

Sure, I remembered what some of the stories we were forced to read were supposed to mean, I guess – until we were tested on it, anyway.

I definitely didn’t get a lot out of trigonometry, although I still remember what a cosine is, despite having zero need for that information.

It’s, like, the ratio between the length of two of the sides of a right triangle – or something.

Where was I going with this?

Oh, right.

What I’m getting at is that education has changed, clearly, from what it was when I was in school. No longer is, “Memorize the things that are coming out of my mouth that are also in this here book,” an acceptable teaching method.

And that’s fantastic.

We have people like Tylere Couture at Timberline, who teaches computing but recently pitched a philosophy course to the district – because he loves it and wants to share that love of it with our kids. Or like Jason Kerluck at Carihi, who came from a forestry background before he became an educator and is now instructing future foresters.

These teachers are bringing their passions to the classroom and passing them along to students who aren’t just being forced to remember the capital cities of every U.S. state and Canadian province, but are instead being directed in finding their own passions.

People like Carihi psychology teacher Susanna Blakemore are reacting to the changing way kids interact with their world, adapting her teaching style to reflect those new realities. Instead of telling them to turn off their phones, she’s integrating those devices into their learning.

People like Timberline’s Steve Joyce are literally taking teenagers into the woods and helping them actually explore the physical world – instead of reading about that world in a book.

In any case, what I’m saying is this: all over the district – and I would assume in other districts, as well – teachers are becoming “learning facilitators” instead of “information distributors.”

And that’s a great thing.

Thanks, teachers.

I look forward to seeing how these kids turn out.