The generative power of teaching

I recently came across this excellent read by Courtney Martin on the reductive seduction of other people’s problems. In it, she provides a provocation that at the heart of many failed attempts of ‘doing good’ is the reductive perception that other people’s problems are easily solvable. She urges those interested in pursuing a career that intervenes in the lives of others to first acknowledge just how much they don’t know and then to ‘lean in’ to complexity with a tremendous amount of patience and curiosity.

With thoughts of vision and values fresh on my mind as our Initial Intensive training drew to a close, I committed to paper three reasons why I feel that teaching is a generative art like no other.

  1. Teaching is not prescriptive; it is about empowering learners to confidently exercise their talents and abilities. Teachers create spaces where learners can express themselves and feel supported to pursue their interests. Quite often those interests morph into passions, even life-long endeavours that become professions, vocations or innovations.
  1. Teaching is not isolated; it is about accessing understanding and shifting awareness to new possibilities. Teachers make the world accessible for learners by scaffolding understanding and demonstrating how knowledge can be applied to create impact. This becomes a bridge between the classroom and community for learners to walk across.
  1. Teaching is not finite; its outcomes transcend boundaries, cultures, and time. Teachers present knowledge as discovery and encourage learners to develop a ‘growth mindset’ and a healthy sense of curiosity. From all corners of the world and throughout time, history makers are those who have inquired continuously and dared to experiment at the edges.

No one comes to teaching with a solution to complex problems, like ending educational inequity. But we do all have the have the passion, patience and curiosity to show up every day with empathy, listen deeply and build toward it each day at a time.

Originally posted at Teach for Australia Stories

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