David Greene is a teacher, mentor, coach, the whole 100 yards. He also blogs about education, and in this post he describes what great teaching is, and gives us hope that it may survive even the current tsunami of bad ideas.

David reluctantly saw a video about High Tech High, which he was floored by, because so many “reformers” love it but never replicate it. It is a project-based school of the kind he admires.

He writes:

I learned how to teach when I was in second grade. I have often written and spoken about my second grade teacher, Rita Stafford, who taught us astronomy by allowing us to build a solar system that hung on our classroom ceiling. We learned about civil rights in 1956-7 not only by reading newspapers and learning about Birmingham and Little Rock, but by writing letters to President Eisenhower, as concerned citizens.

We learned to love learning because of her passion and creativity, so often lost in today’s “Reform World.” Learning is best done “in the company of a passionate adult who is rigorously perusing inquiry in the area of their subject matter and is inviting students along as peers in that discourse.”

“We know a good teacher by the sophistication of that teacher’s kid’s work. If a teacher’s work is worth doing, has lasting value…. and learning that is worth learning…he or she is a good teacher.” Ms. Stafford was. So, I hope, was I because of what I did following those models.

She, Mr. Rosenstock and I all want kids behaving like scientists, artists, and historians: not just studying the content, and doing only restrictive work that allows for success on multiple choice tests. What better way is there than though actually doing the work rather than learning about it. What better way is there than project learning or learning through internship programs, especially in high school? After all, “what is adolescence but trying on new roles and sampling identities? We must just give them the chance.”