As another academic year begins, and students settle into the rhythm of school, I am reminded of how teaching isn’t just a noble profession. It is for most educators, indeed a calling. A calling that challenges them to link the present with the future, by preparing our nation’s most important asset for a life we can only imagine. The world has become a rapidly changing global society, and the need to truly educate our children well so that they might thrive in that ever-changing reality is undeniably imperative.
But what does it take to educate our students well? What and how must we teach our youth to prepare them for their futures? These and many other questions are ongoing queries with which educators continuously grapple. While there are many unknowns, it is clear that there is a set of key skills and dispositions that will provide the students of today, with useful tools to function in their world tomorrow. At the heart of these skills and dispositions is the ability to think critically in and across a variety of subject areas, which is predicated upon deep conceptual understandings of those areas. Students also need to be able to negotiate rigorous content while maintaining a love of learning, a sense of curiosity, and wonder about the world around them.
At the recent 9th Annual the ART of TEACHING Conference, Stephanie Harvey, our keynote speaker, made two important points. First, she noted that we teach students to think so that they can acquire and utilize knowledge. Second, Ms. Harvey emphasized that the more students know, the more they will wonder. So whatever the standards, curriculum, or performance expectations may be, students benefit from instructional experiences that nurture these key skills and dispositions.
In spite of competing positions and very public discourse about what and how to teach children that surround schooling today, one fact remains constant. That fact is, deep levels of student learning occur at the hands of artful skilled teachers, who are both inspired and inspiring. At Cotsen, we are honored to support you along with hundreds of other talented and inspired educators, as you hone and refine your ability to inspire your students to think critically, understand deeply, and retain their curiosity and wonder of learning. We wish you much success and enjoyment in your classroom and school this year, and we look forward to continuing to work with you as we collectively take on the challenge and imperative of educating students well.