School change: The best definition of a teacher’s job EVER!

by Steve Wyckoff on May 10, 2010

Have you ever heard somebody say something and said to yourself, “That really make sense.” And then days later, or weeks later, or years later, and even decades later you realize how profound that statement was. Well  Phil Schlechty has one of those quotes. The first time I heard it I was intrigued but over the last couple of decades, as I thought more and more about it, I realized how profound it is. Phil said;

“A teacher’s job is not to teach kids, a teacher’s job is to create meaningful engaging work whereby the student learns the things we want them to learn.”

How profound. Phil also led me to understand how important authentic engagement is to learning. I don’t know if Phil decided authentic engagement was important and that led him to understand what the teacher’s role needed to be. Or if he analyzed successful teachers and saw that those that created work for the student, that was meaningful and engaging, led to engaged students. It may be a chicken or egg discussion.

But the reality is this, for students to truly learn, not just remembering stuff until the  standardized tests are over, they must be emotionally engaged in the learning process. Nothing emotionally engages students in what they’re learning more than doing work that is meaningful and engaging to them.

“Work” also implies that the students are doing something, not passively observing as the teacher does the work. There is a mountain of research that you only learn something, by doing something. My friend Roger Schank has led the research and the movement for learning by doing.

I think when you couple learning by doing, Roger Schank’s work, with Phil Schlechty’s theories, work that is meaningful and engaging, you have the recipe for students becoming remarkable. – Steve Wyckoff

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