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Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Big Black Door to Freedom



I've come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess tremendous power to make a student’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a student humanized or de-humanized. Haim Ginott, 1976.
Oh, that we and those who hire us would understand the truth of this statement. The students are more important than the subject we teach.

We must never be so focused on objectives that we lose sight of the little hands and feet that pad into our classroom, eyes excited with the opportunity to learn something new. Hungry for a hero. Yearning to be inspired.

Students may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Anonymous


We all know the story of Anne Sullivan, the educator of Helen Keller. She said

"My heart is singing for joy this morning. A miracle has happened! The light of understanding has shone upon my little pupil's mind, and behold all things are changed."

Teaching is Everywhere

So, today as you ponder the worth of your profession, remember the importance of teaching. You can be businessperson but you must also teach: your employees, your stockholders, your customers.

Teaching is at the core of all we do that is effective and meaningful. A smart hermit who does not write or does not share his knowledge dies and becomes dirt. Nothing is left behind to change the lives of another. All of his information dies with him.

A teacher takes what they learn and shares it with others. They document things in writing for others to learn. They take chances. They are themselves lifelong learners and adapters.

The Firing Squad or the Black Door

As I consider teaching and the evolution of the educational system as we know it I am reminded of a story by Don McCullough.

"An Arab chief tells the story of a spy captured and sentenced to death by a general in the Persian army. This general had the strange customer of giving condemned criminals a choice between the firing squad and 'the big black door.'

The moment for execution drew near, and the guards brought the spy to the Persian general. 'What will it be,' asked the general, 'the firing squad or the 'big black door.'

The spy hesitated for a long time. Finally, he chose the firing squad.

A few minutes later, hearing the shots ring out confirming the spy's execution, the general turned to his aid and said, 'They always prefer the known to the unknown. People fear what they don't know. Yet, we gave him a choice.'

'What lies beyond the big door?' asked the aide.

'Freedom,' replied the general. 'I've known only a few brave enough to take that door.'

The best opportunities in our lives stand behind the forbidding door of the great unknown."

The Big Black Door to Freedom

Here we stand on the cusp of an incredible opportunity for teaching our students. Never before have such transformational tools been available to educators for free. And yet, educators are hesistant to walk through the big black door of the unknown.

Beyond the big black door is a freedom to teach, explore, and learn that will harness all of the enthusiasm and excitement bubbling forth from the young minds in one's classroom.

But alas, many teachers would rather go with what they know, and thus execute the potential they had to excite and invigorate minds with the boredom and motonony of static worksheets that remain unchanged since the inception of mimeographed, purple paper.

Who will choose the big, black door into the future?

What lies behind the door?
Wikis, blogs, e-mails, podcasts, and a plethora of things that haven't been dreamed up yet.

What do you choose?

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