Teachable Moments

WP_20140914_023The calendar tells me there are still 4 more weeks of summer.  Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” is still playing in my head.  The mercury in the little glass tube still says “summer”.  County fairs are still in full swing all over the region.  Kids can’t possibly be ready to head back to school just yet!  However, just as surely as orange barrels and traffic cones signal the start of summer driving, today I spotted another harbinger of things to come.  I saw a school bus; route training is beginning!  Students will be returning to the public schools again soon.

I often think of my school years and the teachers I had; many great ones and a few not so great.  What’s remarkable is the amount of memories I can attribute to things learned during non-classroom interactions with teachers; formative things; things learned from leaders and mentors.  I remember far more of those lessons than the subject matter presented during classroom time.  I certainly recall some great classroom presentations (like the time Mr. Ruben rolled up his sleeve to show us the numbers tattooed on his arm while in a Nazi Death Camp), but the time spent relationship building stuck with me longer than most academic lessons.

I had five teachers (physical education, art, music, psychology and history) whom, I am sure, were collectively responsible for diverting me away from a path leading straight to prison or the grave.  These teachers took a personal interest in their students and spent huge amounts of time after school and away from school taking us to events and activities and even participating in those activities with us.  This was before there were TSS’s (Therapeutic Support Staff).  Perhaps that’s why I chose to become an education major with an emphasis on psychology and sociology.  I took as many classes as I could that dealt with understanding people and communicating with them either face to face or through writing.

I always joke that if you’re not learning something, you’d better check your pulse.  It is my opinion that education should be taking place everywhere and at all times continuously throughout a person’s lifetime.  If that be the case, we’ll encounter many teachers along that path.  I taught junior college level classes to Coast Guard recruits and to students at Lakeland Community College in Ohio.  I prefer experiential learning over textbook instruction.  I was privileged to be allowed to create my own curricula based on large amounts of live demonstration and hands-on participation by my students.  These interaction enriched learning environments reinforced and broadened my knowledge base as much as it did those of my students.

It’s for all of the above stated reasons that I love home educating our children.  Our education is highly relational, experiential, portable and perpetual.  We can experience things and learn things together.  We, as parents (or siblings), are not excluded from the educational experience.  We can also travel to learning locations where we’re able to plug in to reenactments or advanced learning platforms such as simulators or hands-on learning laboratories where we can learn alongside others from diverse sociopolitical, ethnic and cross-cultural backgrounds.

Whether public, private or home educators, we are all students and teachers and every moment can be a teachable moment.  Learning is for life so never stop!  Have a great school year!

© 2015 Curt Savage Media

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