Monday, September 13, 2010

Teachers Should Focus on Students Not Resources

Do you think that teachers should be asked to develop their own learning materials and assessment devices?

Can you imagine if a doctor had to develop her own medicines, invent his own cures for illnesses and apply these specific cures to their ill patients? Such a concept would be ludicrous. I imagine that most people would not want to visit such doctors. They'd view these doctors as working in a vacuum with little attention to innovative medical practices developed by others.

If people would not want to visit doctors who operate in vacuums why does society expect them to send their children to teachers who develop their own curriculum resources and assessments? Shouldn't teachers, who should spend their time interacting with students, have the support of others when it comes to development?

Last year, I developed a set of five student centered, problem based units using Google Earth as curriculum wrappers. The topics included: Colonial Economic Regions; Considering the Realities of the Holocaust; Cuban Missile Crisis; Gatsby of the Twenties; and Okies Head West. An associate of mine, an executive at an educational publishing company, told me that teachers could develop these types of units for themselves. Certainly teachers with expertise in Google Earth could develop similar units for themselves. But, aren't we missing the point of what it means to be a teacher if we expect them to take the 40 hours required to develop such a unit on development?

Wouldn't society prefer that teachers spend their time interacting with student to help them learn. Resources can be purchased from outside the school - teacher engagement must come from within.

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