What a teacher does

School starts Tuesday and I was perusing a few short stories that I’d like my Grade 9 kids to read. I’ve been to a fair number of professional development workshops targeted at teaching the “21st Century Learner” – whatever that means. A resounding theme is that the role of the teacher must change – that he is no longer the gatekeeper of information, but the… what? … the guide at the side?

While I perused my stories, it struck me that very few, if any of the Grade 9 students I teach would choose to read the stories I’ll assign them. The stories are written using grammar structures that they won’t be familiar with. They contain themes that will need to be elucidated. Their plots are sometimes pedantic, and their endings, in keeping with their themes, are not always definite. Nope. On their own the kids wouldn’t touch these stories, and if they did, they would have little context for comprehending them. They would be missing out on something wonderful and important. I show them the stories. That’s what a teacher does.

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