In my opinion, the purpose of school is to educate, not teach, students in certain areas of knowledge chosen by those of the Board of Education in order to create ‘functioning’ members of ‘normal’ society. The difference between to educate and to teach is how the knowledge is presented. To educate is ‘to bring up (a child, physically or mentally), rear, nourish, support, or produce (plants or animals’ basically to use verbal methods such as lectures in a class setting, or praise for young child to create a specific skill set embedded in a person, be it information or behavior patterns.
To teach is ‘to show, declare, demonstrate; teach, instruct, train; assign, prescribe, direct’ basically to use physical means to create an understanding of how something is performed. A common example of the two would be university and college. University is known for its textbooks and very written/audible learning styles whereas college is known as being more hands on. An even more common example would be a child’s journey to come to understand to stay away from a hot stove.
A parent could verbally warn them of the dangers, but only once the child has learned through physical interaction does the warning remain in his mind. With these definitions, the title ‘teacher’ is misleading because those at the front of the room are not using methods to involve the students in learning, they are simply showing a PowerPoint and having the students write it in their note book; ‘Educator’ would be a more appropriate term to define those who are hired to only relay thoughtless knowledge because unless there is a physical aspect, it is harder to learn.
One example would be sports. Watching Gretzky play hockey day in and day out does not mean that you will be able to skate like him if you have never skated before. Only by training your muscles and learning by acting will anyone begin to skate like a professional. Another example would be learning to play an instrument or learning to speak a language. Simply watching videos or taking notes on other peoples learning does not constitute you learning those skills because there are no sensory attachments.
In History class, what is stopping a teacher from throwing out the PowerPoint’s, and having students act out a revolutionary battle? Old videos with droning old voices are not involving students in what the video is presenting. Naming their classmates after leaders of opposing sides, and acting out the battle would be both interactive, and create a better visual for what really happened during that battle. These tactics are not available to the students because ‘teachers’ do not make them available.
Field trips, science experiments and interactive group projects are some examples of potential teaching strategies that are used sparingly. My own science teacher set the ceiling on fire during an experiment and we had to evacuate the room. While we all had a good laugh, we all remembered for a long time what chemicals not to mix if we did not want to scorch our ceilings. Out of three and a half years of schooling, not much will be retained over the long periods of time, let alone the 5 months to exams.
What is remembered is the centrifugal force explained while on a trip to Canada’s Wonderland, and experiencing it on a roller coaster. Field trips are memorable and educational, and they teach students what educators cannot. Experience has always been an advantage of human nature and will always be a part of human nature. Sitting in a desk writing words not our own is not how we as people are supposed to learn. In the past, apprenticeships were how people learned, by physically performing the task over and over, allowing not only the brain to learn, but the muscles.
By testing students on their ability to learn the same way as everyone else takes away the freedom and excitement of knowledge, transforming what could have been an eager mind starving for knowledge, into a box filled with what a group of individuals determined the majority of people should know. In my opinion, school is not a place for learning; it is a place for education. School is a confined space in which students are expected to conform to one set standards. The school building is a house that its residents despise, yet continue to walk the narrow hallways like mice in a cheese maze while others ‘guide’ us to where we should end up.