“Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them become what they are capable of being.”
This quotation was taped to my social studies teacher’s desk when I was in eighth grade. It has been in my mind and in my work ever since. My goal is to help my students become educators who can enact this quotation, educators who will make a difference in people’s lives and thereby make a difference in the world.
A metaphor for my work is a web of synapses connecting my teaching with others’ teaching. As new synapses are constantly created and old ones are improved with use, the web grows and is strengthened through increasing connections.
I agree with David Orr that ‘all education is environmental education.’ To be effective, all education must begin with the learner, with what she already knows and brings to the learning experience. Using an interdisciplinary, student-centered, student-directed approach, systems thinking and problem-solving skills can be developed, habits of mind and practice that are needed for sustainable living. My own teaching style is more guide-on-the-side than sage-on-the-stage. Each educator must discover her own, most effective style and create her own unique ‘toolkit’ and ‘bag of tricks’ to facilitate learning.
A quotation from Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael also comes to mind: “‘What do I do if I earnestly desire to save the world’?…’What you do is teach a hundred what I’ve taught you, and inspire each of them to teach a hundred. That’s how it’s always done.’”
I am fascinated by communication between people, especially human language. I enjoy exploring the evolution of language, spoken and written, and I am intrigued by the possible effects of electronic communication on the human brain, social interaction, cultural diversity, and humans’ role in the community of life.