Leading Blog


Teaching, Like Leadership, is a Labor of Love

David Magill Teaching

MUCH of what we do everyday involves some kind of teaching—conveying information to others. We can be enlightened by the discussions from the educational arena on what it means to teach and how people learn. Teaching done right is really a labor of love. It’s having a mind oriented toward the future; seeing a bigger picture beyond what is actually being taught in the present.

David Magill
Affiliated with the University of Chicago, the Laboratory Schools were founded by American educator John Dewey in 1896. Director, David Magill, delivered a speech on opening day this last September. I'm sharing some of his remarks for our consideration as it has obvious application to our role as leaders:

Magill says that the faculty at the Laboratory Schools are carefully chosen not just for their expertise but “because of their character and because they believe that education can make a difference in how human beings treat each other.”

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This summer I read a very interesting article with the title “Higher Education Is Stuck In the Middle Ages–Will Universities Adapt or Die Off in Our Digital World?” Its premise is that universities are losing their monopoly on higher learning to the world-wide-web, as the Internet has suddenly become the global platform for the exchange of knowledge between people. Listen to this quote:

The old-style lecture, with the professor standing at the podium in front of a large group of students, is still a fixture of university life on many campuses. It’s a model that is teacher-focused, one-way, one-size-fits-all, and the student is isolated in the learning process. Yet the students, who have grown up in an interactive digital world, learn differently. Schooled on Google and Wikipedia, they want to inquire, not rely on the professor for a detailed roadmap. They want an animated conversation, not a lecture. They want an interactive education, not a broadcast one that might have been perfectly fine for the Industrial Age or even for boomers. These students are making new demands of universities, and if the universities try to ignore them, they will do so at their peril.

Just as some Universities may be at peril, I know that pre-collegiate education is in trouble at many schools, both public and private. With discovery, creativity, and well-roundedness being pushed to the background while measuring success through federal and state testing programs remains politically popular, it is not surprising that both home instruction and on-line programs keep growing at exponential rates.

The structure of a Laboratory Schools’ education, from nursery through high school, demands thinking and learning for all, as opposed to it being an option for only the self-motivated. Do + Think = Learn was from the beginning, is today, and must in the future be our main thing.

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This coming Saturday, our youngest daughter is getting married in Denver, Colorado. …During the time that I was preparing these remarks, I was also thinking ahead to her wedding and what advice I might give her. … Ironically, I found some parallels with the institution of marriage and this wonderful profession that we chose and would like to practice what I intend to say to her by sharing a few nuggets of wisdom with you.

1. Marriage is not just between two people. Inheriting your spouse’s family is part of the deal. Likewise, working with someone else’s children is not an isolated act. It is done under scrutiny, loving and otherwise, and as a member of a much larger community.

2. Marriage partners need to know, show, and grow their core values. Likewise, we need to remind ourselves why we chose this profession, be able to express what is at the core of our school’s experience, and reject complacency as we become more experienced. It is those core values, not your new home nor our buildings that, in the end, will matter the most.

3. Marriages that last and stay happy are those in which the partners keep falling in love at least once a year. Likewise, our best work occurs when we keep immersing ourselves and falling in love with what we do. So, on this first day of the 2009-2010 school year, renew your vows, and may you once again fall in love.

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Posted by Michael McKinney at 09:43 AM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Education , Learning



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