The first step in improving our schools is to make sure everyone shares a common understanding and language. Efforts to transform schools cannot succeed without a shared understanding of the enormous importance of a long-term investment in education and of the reality that there are no quick fixes.
Students, teachers, and communities – these are the ones who stand to be most affected by and bear the most responsibility for improving schools. Education is built on interactions among people who must alter their habits and attitudes to achieve lasting change.
Vision, inspiration, and information – the three elements that facilitates significant change!
Taken from ‘Learn and Live’ (The George Lucas Educational Foundation) – 1997
While many teachers have taken the initiative to become creative in their efforts to impart knowledge in an engaging manner, the overall scenario of teaching and learning at school doesn’t look encouraging. This is true in all types of schools. Surprisingly enough, having the best facilities, latest technological gadgets, and abundant monetary resources aren’t the best indicators of teacher creativeness. By and large, schools are still filled with teachers who haven’t become intrinsically motivated to make learning fun and meaningful for learners. Why is this so? In my observations in the course of speaking to international school teachers in the metropolitan city of Bangkok, I have discovered that the major hurdle to teacher creativity is the task of teaching itself. Unlike other professionals who constantly spend extensive amount of time and effort for personal and professional growth, teachers have somehow neglected these needs. They have become overly obsessed with performing their duties as ‘teachers’ that they have forgotten that they are professionals too. A professional or an expert remains so by continual learning and extensive research in a particular area of interest. However, teachers have somehow developed a laborer’s mentality. They teach, teach, and teach… (I personally like to say, “They toil, toil, and toil…”) – They become too pre-occupied with their ‘job’ that they lose focus of the big picture of who they are and what they are supposed to accomplish as professional educators. Teaching isn’t the only thing a teacher does. Ask any teacher who is labeled as being creative and engaging what is his/her secret of being so effective – the answer would obviously be that he/she constantly learns – spends time in personal and professional development related activities and programs. These do not have to be expensive, time consuming, and elaborate events in the calendar – in fact, I personally grow personally and professionally at the comfort of my table, laptop, and a cup of something… Yes! One can download and listen to brilliant audio books, seminars, and inspiring materials for teacher development via internet for free! It doesn’t matter how teachers choose to do it, as long as they continue to have the passion to learn and grow as individuals. So, in order for teachers to be creative and engaging, they have to move away from the ‘laborer’ mentality and claim their rights to walk, talk, think, do, and work like a true ‘professional’ – one who would learn, learn, and learn – because a learning teacher is a thinking teacher… and a thinking teacher is a creative designer of engaging and meaningful learning experiences!