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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We Teach Who We are

I guess my thoughts for this week can be summed up in the words of one of my language & literature professors from my multiple subject teaching credential program at Fresno Pacific University - "You teach who you are." What she meant was, inevitably we fall back into our deeply ingrained and rooted, reflexive patterns in the classroom. Despite best intentions, curriculum guidelines, and professional development in 'best practices,' under the pressures of the myriad classroom duties and expectations we resort to the things most deeply rooted in our core - as learners and humans. We are all subject to our native prejudices. We cling to the inconsistent hobgoblins that scream to us, "that's not the way I learned when I was in school." My typical response to this (since I typically hear it from my parents' generation) runs along the lines of, "we couldn't fly to the moon then either." Generational gaps aside, we all peer at each other's experiences through the myopic lens of our own experience and frame. It takes a tremendous intellectual, and occasionally emotional, leap to step outside of that experience and truly see things from the perspective of another. I think that is what drives much of the learning styles theory that is so often bandied about - the dawning realization that not everyone sees and experiences, or learns, the same way as we do. As teachers it is important that we provide accessible learning for all students to meet their needs. not project our own on them. The key to overcoming the reflex of "teaching who we are" is to change who we are. Learn and grow, and incorporate that new learning into our own worldview.