Engagement is required for learning, and what a lovely way to frame it. When we are curious, intrigued, or confused, we activate our brain cells which peak our interest and ignite our curiosity. If we’re excited, delighted and passionate, our energy transfers to others.
Today, a friend posted an interview with Teller, the illusionists, in the January 2016 issue of The Atlantic, “The first job of a teacher is to make the student fall in love with the subject…there’s all sorts of ways to go at it, but no matter what, you [the teacher] are a symbol of the subject in the students’ minds.”
My senior year in high school, Mr. Aizenstat taught my Advanced Placement English class. He wanted to know my thoughts. I could hardly imagine anyone finding that interesting. Wasn’t I only supposed to do what I was told? Now someone wanted me to think! I struggled; thinking was hard work. Bertrand Russell commented, “Most people would rather die than think; in fact, they do so.” In addition to making me think, Mr. Aizenstat wrote questions on my paper for me to read and expected me to rewrite. It would have been easier if he’d just given me a grade and been done with it. However, a sense of satisfaction, confidence and ownership emerged from all that writing. My C’s transformed into ‘A’s’. I had something to say, and someone listened. Some of those papers with cherished comments written by ‘Mr. A.’ still reside in a small blue file box in my office. Years later, his strategies and his joy of dialoguing with students through their writing found their way into my classroom. Writing a question on a paper instead of a correction is transformational. Even now, when I write, I wonder what he would say and what his questions would be. I can still hear his voice, “Where’s the Carne Rojo?”
Teller concluded his interview, “What I have, however, is delight. I get excited about things. That is at the root of what you want out of a teacher; a delight in what the subject is, in the operation. That’s what affects students.”
What is your magic, your delight and how are you sharing it with those who look to you for inspiration?