Earlier today, I read this quote, which sparked the following thoughts. Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Imagine it’s your first day of practice for your middle school’s basketball team. Attempting to hide your nervousness, you enter the gymnasium and find yourself approaching a few familiar faces. Standing in a couple of circles, your team awaits the coach. He enters dribbling the basketball with such ease while asking you to sit down and be quiet. Your first practice has begun.
He speaks to your team about all the different dribbles, passes, shots, and plays you’ll be learning leading up to the big game. Each day, he focuses on a skill explaining and demonstrating it. Again, you sit and listen. Practice after practice, you watch your coach model the skills and plays from the sidelines. It’s his hope for you to grow your knowledge and skills as he prepares you for the big game, which has finally arrived. As you anxiously walk onto the court for the first time, you ask yourself: “Am I ready? Can I recall all the information? What if I make a mistake?”
Reading this, I think it is safe to say this coach is not the greatest. How could you expect a player to grow in their skills and abilities if all you do is talk to them and show them? How could you expect them to know how to play well as a team if you’ve never given them the opportunity?
Often, our approach to education is modeled after the coach in the above scenario. But there is good news! There are a plethora of coaches out there that have a different approach, and we educators can learn a lot from them. There are coaches that:
- Involve players in practices
- Know their players skill set, meet them where they are at, and push them to improve
- Understand each player brings a set of talents that adds to the team
- Recognize mistakes as an opportunity for growth
- Learn from their players and team, and display flexibility when necessary
- Focus on developing life skills: integrity, grit, perseverance, collaboration, honor, humility, and grace
Right now, we are seeing education change due to our current circumstances. Educators are forced to approach teaching differently. You are doing a great job, and I thank you for showing your creativity, flexibility, and love for your students. But I don’t want us to enter our buildings and classrooms ready to go back to the way things were. Let’s not settle for that! We can do more. Ask yourself, back in the classroom, did your students:
- Have to be quiet so you could tell them what they needed to know, or did you ask questions to get them talking with purpose guiding them to what you want them to discover?
- Have a teacher that was more like the first coach described, or the latter coaches described?
- Do more than sit still on the sidelines listening to you and watching you?
- Memorize facts that are quickly forgotten?
- Get involved in the learning process?
At Bethel, we recognize the powerful impact an educational approach has on learners when they are involved. We equip and empower learners to own their learning, attack mistakes and obstacles as an opportunity for growth rather than failure, collaborate with multi-aged groups, all while developing essential life skills. This form of education goes beyond creating a product; instead, it is about a life-transforming process. It is about creating life-long learners.
Let’s not forget what we are learning during this time. Let’s start getting them involved in their learning. Let’s learn from quality coaches and witness the power of an educational revolution. I leave you with these words again from Benjamin Franklin, “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I learn.”