I first began teaching Mathematics to Grade 7 & 8 students more than 45 years ago. I must admit that I was convinced that all the learning on which my students focused, would be found in the Mathematics textbook that each student was issued at the start of the school year. Somewhat naively, I thought that the vast majority of the students’ learning would come to a grinding halt over the summer months as the books were forgotten and holidays started.
Today, upon reflection, I realize just how much students learn outside the conventional classroom and just how many opportunities there are to learn over the summer months.
I am convinced that as adults, we should take more time to explore those magical “teachable moments” with the children in our charge. Whether it be … how to catch and fillet a fish, how to throw a football, or how to ride a two-wheeler, these are rare opportunities to teach interesting skills that may be retained long after the student has forgotten, for example, how to solve a quadratic equation.
Learning to downhill ski was important within our family. Although our two boys enjoyed competitive downhill racing in Manitoba, they eagerly looked forward to their school Spring Break holiday in March. This was when our family drove out West to ski in the mountains in Fernie, British Columbia. Our boys often wondered why other Manitoba ski families seemed to always arrive in Fernie before us, although we often left Manitoba on the same day. In that my wife was also a teacher, we often spent time “learning along the way”. Other families might travel in the most direct route between point A and B but we always took side trips to explore other interests. Whether it was exploring the life of the North-West Mounted Police at Fort McLeod, discovering the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, or investigating Canada’s deadliest rock slide at the Frank Slide, our family took advantage of these holiday opportunities to learn more about the history and related stories that may not necessarily have been found in the textbooks that our sons were studying in their respective classrooms.
I think back on these amazing opportunities that our family shared and I know our sons are richer for these additional learning experiences.
Perhaps Jiddu Krishnamurti captured the essence of this “Teacher Feature” when he said:
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.
Take care & keep smiling
Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”