Things I Know 73 of 365: It’s time to write our declarations

We hold these truths to be self-evident…

Declaration of Independence

Students, teachers, community members across the country taking a day to stop, think about great moments of learning, pull from those moments the pieces that made them valuable and then declare what they need from learning.

This the is the idea behind the Great American Teach In.

It doesn’t stop there.

What if we took those ideas – in classrooms, schools, coffee shops – and asked what our places of learning are doing to support and hinder those moments? When we figured that out, what if we as learners drew up the steps we – and I’m talking the totality of the “we” – drafted the steps we would take to make more perfect places to work and learn?

Tuesday, we announced the launch of the Teach In.

For some it will be a first step. For others, a next step.

It will be a step away from political parties or ideology. Asking our students and ourselves to share powerful positive moments of learning should never be political.

It should and must be pedagogical. It must be informed by pedagogy and it must inform our pedagogy.

The discourse about education in America has lost its course. What should be rooted in the curiosity of the people and should work to build a more democratic citizenry rarely asks students what they would like to learn and how they would like to learn it. Much too infrequently do we stop and ask our students and ourselves to reflect on those real and true and pure moments of learning and then cobble together the best parts to build tomorrow’s learning.

Let’s do that.

In the week leading up to the Great American Teach In, let’s schedule Teach In Talks in restaurants, bars, coffee houses and living rooms where we ask our family, our friends and strangers to share their stories of learning. Let’s ask everyone to the table of discourse and really and truly think about what we want and need to make our places of learning more perfect.

Let’s share those stories at elev8ed and Faces of Learning. Let’s upload them to Youtube and Facebook. Let’s write them on our blogs and tweet them, tagging each and every one with #teachin11 so they can live and be archived together and we can learn from how each other learns.

Knowing, though, and doing are different things.

Once we have learned, let’s make choices about teaching and learning that respect what students need. Let’s build places of learning that don’t ask students to conform, but conform themselves to the needs of those students.

If you have ever asked what you can do to help children learn, first ask them how they have learned and then ask how you can help them do it again.

We will learn more if we begin from a place of questions rather than answers.

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