What teaching should be like

I am an avid follower of Edutopia which I believe to be one of the greatest education sites  in the world. Today I received notification on Facebook of two new  postings. The first one was

Inside the Classroom and Mind of an Extraordinary Teacher

This post introduced me to Albert Cullum whose teaching style in the 1960’s was remarkably futuristic. He believed in drama and project work, he inspired his children to read and act out the classics like Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw. Remarkably there was a PBS film made about him called “A Touch Of Greatness” I looked up a preview of the film and found it fascinating, particularly since the documentary interviewed Cullum when he was an old man and brought back many of his students who talked about how he made education come alive for them.

I thought the last sentence of the Edutopia post was particularly relevant:

It’s hard to imagine a teacher who organized literature conventions at school and had his students vote on their favorite authors (Shakespeare and Shaw tied), surviving in today’s classrooms. A man who preached, in his numerous books and interviews, that learning should be “joyful” and “playful” would likely find no joy in a system that judges teachers and students solely on the basis of standardized tests scores.

Kathy Baron, Edutopia Features Producer and Research Editor

If you get the chance look at the preview of the film at http://www.zimbio.com/watch/56SHv5Lfh5p/A+Touch+Of+Greatness/A+Touch+Of+Greatness it is an amazing video.

The second post was called

Teaching War: Making History Relevant

This was another remarkable video. This one was about a wonderful teacher Elena Aguila, who got her class to find out about a different part of the world by their choice. They chose the Middle East and made great pen pals in Baghdad in Iraq. After the allied invasion of that country the children feared for their friends in Iraq and organised a silent march to bring the public’s attention to the plight of the innocent children (their friends) who were caught up in the midst of a war.

This caught the public’s attention at the time and the children found themselves in the media spotlight.

This is another must see video. I found it moving as well as inspiring.

Both videos show remarkable teachers who are bringing wonderful things out of their children. The kind of things these children have experienced is not about a standardised and narrow curriculum. It is about life changing experiences which will live with the children for the rest of their lives.

Well done Edutopia for continuing to fight for a different way in education and showing us the possibilities that exist if we have the sense and bravery to try them.

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