I’ve been having some fun telling people I shared a speaking engagement with Steve Spangler over the weekend. Technically it is true, though Steve and I never actually met. He was the keynote speaker at an early childhood education conference where I taught one of the breakout sessions.
Steve rocked the opening. I will confess I felt a bit intimidated having to follow such a presenter along with his flaming wallet, smoke ring launcher, and loads and loads of laughs. But along with the demonstrations and laugh lines, there were some very serious points he made that stuck with me. I want to share one with you.
Maybe it’s a human being.
The first (and favorite) quote I jotted down from Steve came as he was talking about all the efforts made to improve education. He said we throw money at early ed, then we say -WAIT! No, put it over here!- and we move our attention to high school, but then -WAIT- technology! It’s technology where we need to focus, then no -WAIT – it’s this, that, no, the other thing. Then he said, maybe we can’t seem to settle on the solution because we need to realize, “It’s a human being.”
This was my AMEN moment. Could we stop talking about education and school like a science experiment or a factory conveyor belt, and start looking at students –at children– as human beings? Could we ask for more human development knowledge from our administrators and policy-makers? Could we stop focusing on the next, new education gimmick and start focusing on making real connections with real kids? Could we stop asking teachers to teach to the test and just let them teach to the kids?
I’m not suggesting we do away with educational research or stop looking for improved methods and tools. But I worry that sometimes the actual kids get lost in the avalanche of data and programs and bureaucracy. Now and then it might help to just step back and remember.
They’re human beings.
There are so many different answers because there are so many different learners. But the one way we can guarantee to engage them all, is to see them as humans, as individuals, and to connect with them. As was quoted in the book, Mind in the Making, “There is no development without relationships“.
If we hope to be successful as teachers in any capacity, we need to get past the disembodied mind approach and teach children. Whole, healthy children.