As a teacher, there can be an underlying pressure to be the expert. The authority. The know-it-all. I’m supposed to promote the questions, but also know the answers. At least that is how it used to feel.
But I’ve learned that while kids are amazing learners, they are also some of our hidden experts. They are surprisingly experts of many pursuits.
Sure, they often haven’t quite mastered the fine art of shoe-tying. They may not know how to handle their burgeoning emotions, how to be content at not being the first in a line, or how keep their fingers from exploring the deep recesses of their nostrils. But they are still experts in many areas where I may be completely clueless.
One of my students loves animals. We call him our animal expert. He is obsessed with furry four-legged thingamabobs, creepy creatures that crawl, and the slimy, slithering animals that repulse my inner being.
Another student loves to ice skate. She can spin, twirl, and glide gracefully over the ic that I can barely walk across while remaining upright. Another student is a badminton expert. Someone loves Guitar Hero and often finds reason to strum his air-guitar Gibson with delight while moving through the classroom. Another boy loves cycle-cross bike-racing. Another girl loves basketball, running and (cough) cats. Ewww.
That THEY are the experts. They are the teachers, and I am the novice. And it is a wonderful dynamic. I don’t have to know everything. In many cases, I know nothing. They get to teach me.
Being the expert carries a lot of pressure. But being the student brings a great deal of freedom. I’m free to make mistakes, which I do quite often. I’m free from the burden of having to already know things, or feign that I do. I’m free to ask questions.
I am free to learn.
We have a saying in our classroom. It goes something like this – the smartest person in the room is, the whole class.
As individuals, it is unrealistic to be gurus in multiple areas, but collectively, we can share the love of learning, and the fun of exploring. We don’t have to be experts, because we are expert learners.
I’m participating in the “Slice of Life” writing challenge (hosted by Two Writing Teachers) by blogging every day this month.