When I was speaking to the class, as I said yesterday, I would often accidentally bring up words and concepts that the kids didn’t understand, and I wouldn’t notice that they didn’t get it because they wouldn’t ask questions. From this, I learned that I had to check in to make sure they know things, and to encourage them to ask questions. They’re not always going to understand everything and for that reason a teacher must create a safe environment for them to inquire and not be shy about not knowing things or they won’t understand.
I’ve heard it said, even referring to high schoolers, that school is for learning to follow the rules and learning traditionally, and in college and beyond the students can have the opportunities to think independently. In observing this class, from my experience years ago as a student and just the past 3 days as a student teacher, I have found that this is not the truth. To think independently is not always to deviate from the subject matter and refuse to follow the rules and expectations. Teaching young kids to think on their own in a guided environment can enhance the learning experience by appealing to the students’ interests and getting them more interested in learning.
Independent thinking doesn’t distract from the subject matter; it reflects it. History is defined by revolutionaries and independent thinkers. This week it’s Martin Luther, but every name we learn in every class is someone who broke away from society's expectations. In social studies, every figure from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr. and beyond made an impact significant enough to go down in history. In language classes, every writer and poet whose work we read had something significant and powerful to say that made their work one of the greats. This goes beyond humanities-- even math and science are packed full of names of people who challenged the world’s understanding of their discipline and created laws and theorems that guided the world’s comprehension of the universe. If we teach our students all about the independent thinkers of history but don’t inspire them to think for themselves, who will make the history that students of the future will read?