The question? "Why teach?"
It wasn’t until I received that rejection letter, and admittedly, until I stopped feeling sorry for myself, that a mentor of mine provided the inspiration and encouragement that enabled me to come up with a better answer. A more inspired answer. My answer.
My inspired answer ultimately secured my first teaching job, but more importantly, the process of finding that answer was some of the most powerful learning that I had ever experienced.
The other day, a good friend asked me a question.
The question? "Why 'guide?'"
He was asking, because at WonderLab, I’m one of four Mentor Guides. What he was really asking: Why “guide” and not “teach?”
My answer? Three reasons:
- Over time our notion of the ideal teacher transitioned from someone who asked great questions to someone who stood at the front of a classroom with all the answers—and in turn, the best students became those that best received knowledge from their teachers.
- With the advent of the internet and smartphone technology, we are attempting to teach the first generation in history with the ability to immediately access an incalculable amount of knowledge and answers at their fingertips (or in their pockets) at all times.
- These days, as more members of the “Boomerang Generation” head back home from college to live with their parents and figure out what they want to do and who they want to become, young learners need mentors to help guide them to their answers now more than ever.
“...we are attempting to teach the first generation in history with the ability to immediately access an incalculable amount of knowledge and answers at their fingertips...”
We have started this work with middle school-aged learners because we believe this is the key moment in a child’s development when too many begin to lose their love of learning—when education becomes something that happens to them instead of something that they take a more active role in making happen for themselves.
We’re not a school, nor are we a substitute for school. We’re a self-directed learning supplement because we believe that though this kind of learning need not comprise an entire educational diet, it must be an increasingly larger part of a healthy one in the 21st century.
We believe in the power of big questions. What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? When do you become so involved in an activity or pursuit that you lose track of time? What opportunities and/or injustices do you see around you? Only then do we begin building a learning project, setting goals and providing the support and accountability for learners to come up with inspired answers. Their answers.
What are your answers? Please contact me, visit the Lab, meet our Mentor Guides, and let’s find out!