When I was a child I grew up overseas. My family and I lived in several countries, one of which was Saudi Arabia, a country where freedom is extremely limited. Thoughts, speech, and actions are controlled. I remember gated houses, veiled women, and children with eyes that darted away. I remember sneaking in magazines to the country and hiding my Bible. I remember wondering why the women allowed themselves to be basically enslaved.
What I learned from this experience is the freedom to think, to question, and to disagree are the greatest gifts our forefathers established for Americans. My parents always pushed me to think, to make choices, to justify my actions, to examine a situation and to decide what should be. I remember many a dinner conversation about a hot topic that turned into a great debate, but I sharpened my thinking skills.
When I became a teacher I did not realize the need education has for great thinkers in the classroom. I simply took the textbooks and thought I would follow what it said to do. I quickly realized this did not work very well. My students were individuals and needed a teacher who could think, make adjustments, and find solutions for them. Somewhere along the way I developed my ability to think about my teaching and to make adjustments. I have yet to teach the perfect lesson, but sometimes there are those special ones that just zing. The zing comes from my ability to think about my teaching.
I have worked with so many amazing teachers throughout the years and the ones that stand out are those who are deep thinkers. They are not looking for a quick script or an easy solution, but find new clues each day to help student unravel their own questions. These teachers develop their students ability to think. The expert teacher will not be correct 100% of the time, but he/she will be able to explain the processing and will most likely get it right more often than the person who was simply given a script.
To reduce the teaching profession to something that can be scripted or canned is like making your medical checkup with a robot. Great teachers are amazing free thinkers. Great teachers develop through reflection and dialogue. They grow from being trusted, supported in their thinking and assisted in developing their ability to ask questions.
If we want to be a nation of great educators, we must be a profession that demands all develop into deep thinkers, all hold to high common standards, and all believe questioning each other will only lead to greater understanding. Push the envelope....
As I've said before, if we all rock our little boats together, the ocean will move.