Saturday, April 22, 2006

Changing the world is one decision away

"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think."
- Margaret Mead

This is different from the primary purpose of TIA, which is to teach the children. Social change can only, must always, come through the teaching of children. Adults are too old to change their thinking radically about matters at the community level. They can, however, if they have sufficient numbers, ask their educators to teach their children the new ways.

Margaret Mead, of whom I am one of a great many admirers, was not accurate with the wording of what became today's quote. Until now we have taught children what to *believe*, not what to think. We cannot teach *what* to think because thinking is a process, not an objective.

How, then can we teach children how to think? This is not difficult, except for the fact that their teachers have been taught to not think and also what to believe, as have the leaders of education boards and ministries that set education standards and objectives.

Can a teacher who does not have a skill herself teach children that skill?

Ironically, yes. If the teacher knows how to go about the process of teaching thinking skills to children, the children will learn even if the teacher cannot fully appreciate what they have accomplished.

In my first year of classroom teaching, I was given what was called an enrichment class, now commonly known as a gifted class. The kids were bright, social misfits in their previous classes and sometimes behaviour problems as a result.

I didn't know how to think myself. I didn't even know what to teach because I was given free reign and no curriculum. So I devised project objectives that would interest the kids, challenge their intellect and develop skills I thought that every adult should have.

It was a winner of a class, my most outstanding year as a teacher, because the kids went far beyond expectations as neither they nor I had any guideposts to tell us where they should be by the end of the school year.

The next year I crashed because I was not given that class and the ugly reality of education establishment settled on my head like a tombstone.

In my third year of teaching, I switched to science, which opened more possibilities to give kids the opportunity to learn to think.

I was a mediocre teacher, but an excellent educator. A teacher teaches specific facts and skills from a curriculum. An educator teachs children how to survive and thrive in the world of adults.

Kids want to know how to be good adults. When we don't teach them what they need and want, we end up with consequences like we have in the world today.

Change is a simple decision away. Help me gain enough support to have the powers that be make that decision. They are just looking for guidance from us.

They will switch as soon as they believe we want change. We need enough of us to know the needed changes before we can recommend them.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to build enough support to make the simple change that will make the whole world a better place to live.
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