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Administrator, author and educator

Toni: Excellent point.

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Toni:
Excellent point. Reading in foundational to all academic learning. You are right, the ability to look at abstract symbols on a page and turn them in to sound and words and meaning is nothing short of miraculous. We humans have a knack for the miraculous. Just the fact that I can type without looking at my fingers is amazing. I listen to my daughter play the piano, and she doesn't look at her fingers, playing at least four notes at the same time, and she sings while she does it-- that is truly marvelous. When trying new teaching methods is like me trying to play the piano, painful at first, but as I stick with it, I gain the fluency born of practice, and it gets easier and I become more effective. The same can be said of students learning how to learn...just keep at it and it gets better.
Best Regards,
Ben Johnson
San Antoniio, Texas

Administrator, author and educator

Toni: Excellent point.

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+1

Toni:
Excellent point. Reading in foundational to all academic learning. You are right, the ability to look at abstract symbols on a page and turn them in to sound and words and meaning is nothing short of miraculous. We humans have a knack for the miraculous. Just the fact that I can type without looking at my fingers is amazing. I listen to my daughter play the piano, and she doesn't look at her fingers, playing at least four notes at the same time, and she sings while she does it-- that is truly marvelous. When trying new teaching methods is like me trying to play the piano, painful at first, but as I stick with it, I gain the fluency born of practice, and it gets easier and I become more effective. The same can be said of students learning how to learn...just keep at it and it gets better.
Best Regards,
Ben Johnson
San Antoniio, Texas

I agree with the writer.

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I agree with the writer. There are times when direct instruction is necessary, but that instruction should be taken by the student to participate in an activity that they can do alone. When a student can take what he has heard and apply it to do on his own, to me that is learning. I enjoy teaching my students how to read. As an educator, I believe that is the one skill all students should master well and all teachers should learn to do. It amazes me how a student can learn letters and sounds by mimicking the teacher. Then once those letters and sounds are mastered, the sounds are blended together to make words that they can now pronounce. Then repeating this process until fluency takes place. Students learn everything best when knowledge is applied. Yes teach, but make sure students are making gains because they can replicate the skills that have been taught on their own.

Founder-Developer of Kids' Own Wisdom.

Bottom line: It's my

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Bottom line: It's my experience that teachers are VERY much needed, but - or should I say "yet" - there is room for re-definition of teachers' role in the classroom and in their students' development - academically, socially-emotionally, aspirationally... (is that a word? ;-) ...

High School English teacher, graduate student

This debate is beneficial to

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This debate is beneficial to me as I, a veteran teacher, sort out what to keep from the "old" and what to adopt from the "new."

Education Specialist

[quote] A major influence on

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[quote] A major influence on overcoming my shabby self image was just following my own curiosity about art history, about landscape design, about horticulture, about educational theories and practices, about geography, about game design, about curriculum design, and much more." "The key is exactly as Mr. Johnson describes: "They stack the deck" There is a subtle but substantial distinction between these 2. Stacking the deck implies the teacher retaining control, albeit behind the scenes, of what is intended to be learned. Your experience of educating yourself left you in charge from start to finish. If you asked a group of kids, the vast majority would choose your path. There may be a place for teachers enacting Foucault's Panopticon but the vast majority would love an educational setting where they take the lead including when they've learned enough about a topic to fulfill their needs or curiosity, all without the implicit watchful eye of the teacher.

Founder-Developer of Kids' Own Wisdom.

Teachers who understand and

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Teachers who understand and deliver what is proposed in Ben Johnson's article: THANK YOU!!! For nearly all of my elementary, middle and upper school years I was considered a bright and enthusiastic child, but my grades rarely - if ever - reflected those qualities. I actually graduated from public high school with a D- average. (Most people who know me now express extreme surprise, even disbelief, to learn that about my past.) The low self-esteem that accompanied my GPA took a long time to neutralize and overcome. A major influence on overcoming my shabby self image was just following my own curiosity about art history, about landscape design, about horticulture, about educational theories and practices, about geography, about game design, about curriculum design, and much more. With the majority of these studies I had mentors or friendly experts upon whom I could call. I sometimes wonder how much more I could have accomplished in life if I'd had teachers who brought Mr. Johnson's and Socrates' approach to my classrooms .... a lot, to be sure. And yet out of the surviving spark of my particular flame of intelligence came inspiration to create KIDS' OWN WISDOM ... Resources for putting students in the driver's seat of their own social-emotional development. KIDS' OWN WISDOM respects and expects much from young children, and teachers who follow the instructions (by NOT teaching) enjoy the greatest results. The key to teachers' success does not imply passivity on their part - far from it. The key is exactly as Mr. Johnson describes: "They stack the deck so that students have a reason to learn and in the process can't help but learn mainly by teaching themselves. This knowledge then becomes permanent and cherished rather than illusory and irrelevant."

Education Specialist

[quote]I agree that it can't

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[quote]I agree that it can't be "all fun all the time" Why not? What would happen to the drop-out rate if it really was fun all the time? Unless you believe kids are stupid you have no reason to believe that kids won't want to learn math, reading, writing, or any other relatively universally needed skills & content. They don't need engagement, they need their voice heard, and not in the CCSS box or any other box, but in the boundless edges of their hopes & dreams.

Education Specialist

"I believe it is the right of

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"I believe it is the right of every student to fail, if they want to", but will we give every student the right to opt out of taking a course rather than fail? Let's all rethink the notion of mandatory courses and failing students. How much more could you teach to those who choose your course if those who really don't want to be there were given a safe space to inhabit other than your classroom? I'm willing to bet that the achievement w/in your classroom would skyrocket.

Teacher, Writer, and Artist

I LET HAP TEACH TODAY New

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I LET HAP TEACH TODAY

New ways of teaching and learning should be tried. A better job must be done with those who have trouble learning.

—Georgia, by Elmer D. Williams

They’re still reading these dang essays today from behind The Lectern of Speaking because I told them to and they’re still whining about it and then when they get to reading them the students seem to like being the center of attention after all.

Hap’s up there going to town on his essay this morning and doing a real good job and then there’s Tempest on the front row and Petal’s sitting in the second row right behind Tempest and for some unknown reason Tempest turns around and engages Petal in conversation and Petal engages Tempest in conversation right back.

So these two are just going to town.

Hap’s up there also going to town reading his essay.

I’m sitting at the desk in the front watching and listening to Hap … then I’m looking at Tempest and Petal … and then I’m watching and listening to Hap … and then my attention once again turns to Tempest and Petal. For all the wrong reasons.

It would have been okay if Tempest had turned around to tell Petal to go find a fire extinguisher because her Georgia History textbook was on fire. But that just wasn’t the case as far as I could tell. Tempest just wanted to talk to Petal during Hap’s fine reading of his essay so she starts talking to Petal. Petal was polite enough to talk right back to Tempest. Isn’t that such a great moment for Tempest and Petal in the development of what Principle Lurlene would call a student’s “social piece.”

I went nuts. And when I go nuts, particular to a social situation like this, several unsociable things happen in real quick succession. Here they are …

I yell real loud what the heck are you doing while Hap’s reading his essay

Then I sit up real high in my chair and say … time out … real loud and frantically and then do the time-out sign with my hands as if the referee isn’t paying attention to me and it’s near the end of the Super Bowl and I think we have a chance to win

I watch everybody perk up real super-fast and shut up

I remind, real loud, Tempest and Petal, that a fellow student is nervously doing his best to read his essay in front of a group of people and the teacher lives for these classroom moments very much

I look at Hap and say I’m sorry on behalf of these two atomic Butts County heads, Tempest and Petal

Tempest says she’s not an atomic Butts County head

I make the atomic Butts County heads apologize to Hap

The atomic Butts County heads apologize to Hap

Then I say to Hap that he all of a sudden has the atomic power to boot anybody out of class he feels is not paying attention to the reading of his essay … especially Tempest and Petal

Hap smiles and asks if I am totally kidding

I give Hap my satisfied smile

Hap asks again if I am totally kidding

Then I put my feet up on the desk, lightly grasped The Teaching Stick, and deeply enjoyed the rest of the reading of Hap’s fine essay.

www.actionjacksonart.com

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