Oops. Missed out on posting yesterday so I suppose I’ll make this a post for Monday and give you all a bonus Saturday post or something or other.
Let’s start by talking about assumptions.
Early in our morning meeting on Monday one fellow student-teacher shared how we really couldn’t assume things about students because the stories they shared were often so surprising. Some were painful to hear, and others just sad. There are a lot of students at our school and a lot of stories; more than a handful of them are bound to be stories of struggle and difficulty. Indeed that same day I had the opportunity to chat with a student while observing in a ceramics class and found that the student found high school rather pointless. I’ll paraphrase:
Elementary’s alright, y’know, because I know I need reading and I need writing. But I don’t have to do x-stuff, y’know, algebra, when I go to work. My mum has to do the taxes and I think that’s more important, but they don’t teach us to do taxes in high school. I’d rather be working.
The conversation was certainly intriguing and I admire the student for her pragmatic outlook on life. At the same time I was a little taken aback because I had never really questioned the point of school; I grew up thinking that it was something everyone had to go through as a part of life. Yet I realize that if I approach teaching and the classroom as something that students must go through, I will shape my lessons perhaps less practically than if I view the classroom as a place wherein I must encourage students to attend. This oversight is on my part an assumption about students and their perspective of school. Granted, there are probably some students like me who believe school is just a necessary part of life, but I suspect that being exposed to the world outside of school at an earlier age can make one question the practicality of high school when its relevance is not immediately obvious.
So, having discovered one assumption, I did start my Monday by having once again realized just how little there is to know when it comes to teaching students. Indeed I am sure that throughout my teaching practice I will have to uncover, reveal and correct a multitude of assumptions on my part; my only encouragement is that I am discovering this now instead of fifty years too late.