“Teach them all like they are going to be president someday.”
Marco Torres uses this quote a lot in his presentations. I like the quote. It says a lot to me, on several levels.
“Teach them all like they are going to be president someday.“
What does that mean? In Marco’s talks, he uses it when he speaks about the school he comes from, and the difficulty that he has getting fellow teachers to believe that students can achieve. He believes that no matter the circumstances, students can rise above any poor hand that life has dealt them, given a mentor that believes in them, and given access to a good education (with a healthy dose of educational technology thrown in). Education, mentoring, and technology, in Marco’s mind, are the key to success.
Marco, who teaches at San Fernando High School in San Fernando, Calif., is a master teacher, not only with students, but with other teachers as well. He likes to talk about how his students, mostly poor, mostly Hispanic, and mostly given up on by the circumstances of life and an uncaring education system, are transformed through positive mentoring and the power of using technology. Someone once called Marco “Jaime Escalante 2.0.” That fits him pretty well. He is Jaime Escalante, plugged in and with a WiFi connection.
But he continues to face an uphill attitudinal battle even after becoming the only teacher in California history to be named the statewide teacher of the year twice. One would think that that kind of accolade would carry with it some clout. Alas, it does not. He still faces his fellow teachers that have attitudes like:
“How can we teach these poor Mexican-American kids who can’t even speak English?”
“How can we expect them to learn trig when they don’t even know basic math?”
“Why should we teach them?”
“What should we teach them?”
Teach them like they all are going to be president someday.
I was thinking about Marco’s quote the other day, and even though I am not in a situation like Marco where teachers have essentially given up on an entire student population in a high school, I began reflecting on how we teach kids these days. (And I generalize here. This is a statement about education nationally, not in a specific geographic setting.)
We still teach facts and figures without relevance to life.
We still teach tested materials despite what business is now telling us about the generation of test-takers we have produced.
We still teach lecture style.
We still teach like we were taught.
We don’t use enough technology.
We don’t teach problem solving.
We don’t teach communication skills.
We don’t teach collaboration skills.
We don’t use technology to enhance learning.
As long as I have been in education, which is going on 23 years now, I have yet to see evidence that the skills needed by our students to survive in the 21st century are actually being incorporated in a large scale in curricula around the country.
Yes, I know there are pockets of resistance to this type of thinking and teaching, (the edu-blogesphere is full of people telling other people how to teach) the vast majority of student education at both the secondary and post-secondary levels is woefully 19th century. This is your grandfathers education system.
After reading Daniel Pink’s “A Whole New Mind” (and if you haven’t read it, shame on you!) it is apparent that the future business and political leaders, ne, future workers, will have to have 21st century learning skills. Thinking out of the box won’t have to be simply a cliché; it will have to be a way of life. And as of now, we aren’t teaching out of the box. We are still squarely in the box. The world is rattling at our box, yet we still are quite happy to be inside, watching the rest of the world pass us by.
So think of those kids in our classes.
Are we teaching them to think? Are we teaching them problem solving? Are we teaching them the global perspective of things?
What would a president have to know in order to run the government? Wouldn’t he or she have to be able to problem solve, use technology, think on a global scale, come up with right-brained solutions in a world full of left-brained thinkers?
Are we simply still teaching them like we always have?
Are we teaching them like they all are going to be president someday?
This originally appeared on my old blog “Intended Consequences”—TBH