Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Unconventional Education, or why the unique can help kids succeed.

My life has been drastically affected by teachers, a fact that makes me believe that teachers must be an integral part of how education will be improved here in the US. Both of my parents are elementary school teachers, and they do amazing things every day.

Many times, great teachers are also what you would call unconventional teachers. They take the end point, look at the usual way to go, and then do something completely different.

For an example, I give you Mrs. Frizzle.

Sure, she isn't real. But I can dream. And the idea of visualizing biology (even if you don't get to be the food Arnold eats) is a great idea.

There's also teaching by pushing students above and beyond what people think they are capable of...anyone remember Stand and Deliver?

This professor is baller. He earns the respect of his students, in a way that empowers them.

And then there is Jack Black, who teaches kids at a pretty uptight school how to be different.

And then there's the teacher in October Sky, who taught the boys that it was okay to love science in a coal-mining town. (and if you've never seen this, go for the eye candy that is Jake Gyllenhal. hott).

The list goes on and on (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Karate Kid, To Sir With Love, Finding Forrester, Music from the Heart, Dead Poet's Society, and yes, even Sister Act II).

Then there are also those teachers like Alton Brown, the guy from Man vs. Wild, people who write design blogs, Anthony Bourdain, Bill Nye, Abby from NCIS (it's on in the exercise room. All the time. She cracks me up), the guys from Mythbusters, the History Channel...

These are the people that spur you onto discovery, learning, investigation. They inspire curiosity. And that is the way to motivate students. No, I'm not saying that students should watch TV or movies to find their inspiration. But what I am saying is that these people---these unconventional creative thinkers---we need them to look up and say, "You know what? I want to be a teacher." And that...that would be cool.


The Oak Leaves said...

I completely agree with you, my mom is a 4th grade teacher and has students from previous years always stopping by to say hello and give her a hug. I only did that with teachers i really appreciated.

I wanted to be an art teacher, but was too far along in my Fine arts degree when i realized it. Perhaps one day though... i love kids, and i love share the joys of art more than anything.

M. said...

I cry every single time I watch "Mr. Holland's Opus." No joke.

I've gotta say that upon being accepted to grad school, one of the most exciting moments was when I emailed my old English teacher from 8th and 12th grade (he switched schools just in time to teach me again). After all the hard work he put into shaping my mind and making me a better person, I felt so grateful to email him with the rewarding news. Very cool.

Greg Albing said...

Wow, thank you for posting that video of Magic School Bus; it's been forever! Having taken several education classes, I'm surprised at, among other things, how structured that show was and how closely it fits to both problem solving and lesson planning.

Bridget said...

The Oak Leaves: you can always volunteer! And the nice thing is that you can make a mess and get the kids riled up---and leave :) Seriously, though--my art teacher in elementary school was just so great. I hated art back then, but I simply idolized her. She could do everything I couldn't, like mix colors, and make a mug that actually had a love that stuff.

M. Yeah, I do too. No shame...

Greg: Gotta love that bus :)

Marian Mossman said...

I've never seen School of Rock (I know!) but I MUST see it now.

Fabulous post.

Kyle said...

Magic School Bus. Awesome and old school. I remember watching the cartoon on Saturday mornings...