This I Believe

Stephanie - Haines, Alaska
Entered on July 6, 2007

I believe that human beings are natural learners; that learning is as fundamental a human activity as breathing, eating, eliminating. Learning, like breathing, eating, eliminating, feels good. Learning stops feeling good when it is disrupted, interrupted, sidetracked. Although an argument can be made for holding the learner accountable for disruption, as a teacher, I take the opposite view. I hold myself accountable for the learning, or lack of, when I instruct. Over the years I have studied and implemented countless strategies designed to support learning; I have specialized in working with learners who present as challenging to others. I am a student of the psychology of learning and am steeped in various theories, but I come back time and time again to a statement made to the first 12 graduates of Temple University’s innovative Resource Room teacher MA program in 1971. Dr. Richard Iano assured us that there was one and only one person over whom you could ever exercise control in a classroom – and that was yourself. As I moved through my career as a trainer of teachers, I have had to field many many comments and concerns about home-based and society barriers to learning. In accordance with my value system and my philosophy, I generally find a way to leave this message: “Then we at school will just have to find a way to be stronger than home; than society.” When our learners begin to flag by whatever standards are current, we as teachers have to change the way we do business; and we can do that because learning and teaching are the most creative of pursuits.