There Is No One Way

Recently, a teacher friend of mine responded to an article I shared with her.

Kids learn in many different ways as I’ve experienced firsthand. While I understand the appeal of a self-directed approach I wonder how that is implemented. At the elementary level focus on critical thinking is key. Once you get to the secondary level how is that integrated into current curriculum, and who is equipped to teach that way? In college, it’s more about networking to secure employment, which is a great skill to learn btw. In business, we have mentors who show us the ropes. Perhaps that’s an answer. Coincidentally we had that at A&D. Our teachers were like master craftsmen and we were the apprentices studying to enter the guild. As usual I have more questions than answers. Tools like those presented by Kahn Academy are very useful, but they are tools just like computers, airbrushes, iPhones etc.”

My initial reply was … “There in lies the basic core of the answer, different paths and tools, as well as support and guidance. If a teacher is not taught to think, explore, and resolve … how can they teach it to students? There are a number of kits, given to teachers, which supposedly hold the key to new methods of learning. They are only as useful as the teacher’s understanding of the tool. We all need mentors and sages. Life is that big.”

To expand on that a bit …  First, I’m convinced that multiple methods of teaching, developed and used properly, will better serve the millions of students out there. No one builds a house with just a hammer.

We all need to build on the basics, a framework that is strong and will allow us to add on as we go. But like building, must we be able to follow a blueprint, we also need to be able to problem solve.  Why? Because problems – varying circumstance will arise, guaranteed.

For whatever reason, our educational system seems programed to look for single answers to complex concerns. In a country made up of various cultural, economic, and regional differences how can one answer apply?

Image

(In my PD workshops teachers learn to use comics to engage students in hands on science lessons.)

Teaching is a skill.

Good teachers are golden.

Great teachers are priceless.

About SimmonsHereAndNow

Alex Simmons is an award-winning freelance writer, comic book creator, playwright, teaching artist, and educational consultant. He’s written for Disney Books, Penguin Press, Simon and Schuster, DC Comics, and Archie Comics. Simmons is the creator of the acclaimed adventure comic book series, Blackjack. As a teaching artist Simmons has created and taught creative arts workshops for students and educators in the US, Europe, West Indies, and Africa. Simmons has served on panels, and delivered lectures on children’s entertainment mediums, as well as empowering young people through the arts. Simmons founded the annual family event, Kids Comic Con, as well as three comic arts exhibits, which have traveled abroad. He is currently developing a comics and creative arts program for children all over the world. For over 30 years, Simmons has been a member of arts and education boards for the New York State Alliance for Arts Education, the Department for Cultural Affairs, and is on the State Department Speakers Program. As a teaching artist Simmons has been paid to have fun working with youth through the Apollo Theater In-School Arts Program, Henkel McCoy, Upward Bound, New York Council on the Arts, Children’s Art Carnival, Wings Academy, and NYU Creative Arts Team, to name a few. He has been a panelist at many literacy and arts events, and he has been a guest speaker at numerous colleges and educational institutions here and abroad.
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