The school year has begun and we’re off to what appears to be a very fine start. While brunching with my oldest today I asked him a question that just popped into my head:
If you could teach anything you wanted, what would it be?
He spent some time thinking about it and even said, “that’s a good question.” The conversation that ensued was deeply interesting and proved fertile for a whole new crop of questions like Do you need to be an expert in order to teach something to someone else? What makes a class ‘academic’? Would you require anything of your students? How would you know what they are learning? And many others.
At the same time I was turning the question in my own mind wondering what my topic or theme of choice might be. And sure enough, another very fundamental question emerged: What do I mean by “teach”?
Give instruction? provide expertise? engage in discussion? offer guidance? tell? show?
Wouldn’t this be an interesting question to ask students? How might they respond? What would their responses reveal about their assumptions related to teaching and learning? What might we learn about our students as people with interests and enthusiasms by raising this question?
Taking the idea back to my own classroom, I want ask students about their special interests and think about ways I can offer them opportunities to actively teach each other. While I often remind them that I am not the only teacher in the room, I want to “put my money where my mouth is” and develop the idea into a visible practice. I wonder what some of them might be eager to teach. it’s time to find out.