“Students are Creators, Teachers are Facilitators, Parents are Supporters.”
This motto, recently adopted at the school that I currently lead, exemplifies the role of the student, teacher, and parent in the educational system. For optimal learning and development, the student is at the center of his/her learning process. Students are given the opportunity to understand, question, analyze and criticize. They become owners of their learning, equipped to take risks in their learning process, allowed to fail, challenged to grow, and encouraged to explore. Provided with a clear curricular framework based on high standards and benchmarks, a student can stand on the foundation of the necessary content and skills to reach above exploring and creating, deepening their learning through project-development, problem-solving, inquiry-based exploration, and cooperative analysis. Coupling the foundational curricular framework with students at the center of their learning process allows students to develop to their fullest potential while respecting each child’s individual needs.
With the role of the student clear as the central creators of their learning process, the teacher’s role then comes into focus, as the facilitator of the students’ learning process. The teacher clearly understands the curricular framework of content and skills for each developmental stage, and s/he can facilitate the discovery of those standards and guide the student in creating depth to the foundational curriculum. Through using varied methodological approaches, integrating innovative educational technology, and developing healthy and enriching relationships through understanding the unique attributes of each student, a skilled teacher is able to facilitate growth, differentiation, critical thinking, and challenge.
Education, Development, and the Child
Education is the development of integral human beings, not simply the development of cognitive intellects who learn and produce information. To only focus on the mind of a child, without giving equal priority to his/her social, emotional, and physical development, particularly in the areas of values and character, is a great disservice to the child, to the family unit, and to the impact the child will have on our society. Therefore, strong academics should be coupled with excellence in character education at the center of the educational system and its programs.
An educational system rich in values and combined with academic excellence allows for a child’s humanity and character to be developed integrally with his/her intellect. Therefore, hands-on activities, manipulatives, inquiry-based lessons, and metacognition can combine with character development to impact and shape children as they grow into young adults. When sculpting the programs offered by an educational system, the focus remains on the “end product” of a child who will be released into society as a functional citizen. Focusing on character development of equal importance to excellence in cognitive development is a valuable service to the children throughout their formative years and the well-being, stability, safety, and evolution of our society.