“We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.”
– Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
Knowledge is important when you’re a teacher. I don’t think anyone would argue with this, but the degree to which knowledge is important is up for discussion, in my opinion. I started this blog and titled it “The Thinking Specialist,” because I believe that the thought we put into content is far more important than the content itself. Instead of being masters of content, I believe that teachers should be masters of thinking and learning–or at least dedicated to and passionate about thinking and learning. In fact, to assume that any one person has an exhaustive knowledge of any one content area is arrogant and unrealistic. Even the most educated of scholars are most inspired and perplexed by what they don’t know. That’s what makes them scholars, that’s what makes them brilliant, and that’s what makes them successful. At their core, they are learners.
“Who we are” as teachers in our classrooms should reside in the fact that we are actually learners first and teachers second. The word “teacher” implies that we are all-knowing beings in our classroom, and the fact of the matter is, we’re not. The only thing that separates us from our students is age, and the amount of knowledge or wisdom we have is a mere byproduct of that age gap. Understanding and respecting that idea is the key to leveling the playing field in our classrooms, respecting our students, empowering them to be learners, and in turn, allowing all members of our respective classroom communities to take on the role of both “teachers” and “learners.”
It also relinquishes us of the responsibility of being all-knowing and perfect. It releases our “teacher shame” when we don’t know something. It allows us to learn alongside our students and model the behaviors of active inquiry and the thirst for knowledge. It gives our children a state of being to which they can aspire, as opposed to making them feel like an empty vat, barren of knowledge, and wholly dependent upon us to fill it.
By letting our students know that we, as teachers, are actually learners and thinkers first and foremost, we help them see that they are worthy of knowledge and that they have the power to construct it on their own. They can find their individuality in their own intelligence, and along the way, build a relationship with the teacher through one of life’s greatest gifts: learning.