We Teach What We Are

One day when my son was 12, he came home upset by a teacher and her introduction to his Health class. This is how she framed the class, “I know it is sixth period, you’re tired and you don’t want to be here. Well, I don’t either, but I have to pay my mortgage. If I could do anything else, I wouldn’t be here, but I can’t, so I am stuck here with you and you are stuck with me… We’ll muddle through this together somehow, and then we can all get on with our lives.

She could have said something like this instead, “It is sixth period after a full day at school, and you are lucky that this is a class that will be interesting, exciting and valuable to you in ways that are relevant right now. You will learn how you can lead a more healthy life. You will be able to support your families and make a real contribution at home. And, the way we will work together will be engaging and fun. That means you’ll leave school energized and ready for whatever you intend to do next. I am lucky to teach such an exciting subject, and we are all lucky to end the day like this together!”

 

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Which is true? Both are, and the story above is why, in Accelerated Learning, we say that the teacher/facilitator is the key factor that determines learner success or failure – a bold statement perhaps, but let’s look at the research. Professor Rosenthal’s research demonstrates the role that our thoughts and actions play in supporting or hindering learning. In his studies, IQ scores actually increased based on what teachers expected and thought.

 
 

The work on mirror neurons by people like Dr. Marco Iacoboni and others seems to suggest that what we think, how we act creates a reality for our learners, and that the reality changes their brains. If we consider what that may mean, it shows just how important deeper personal development work is for anyone who teaches or facilitates.

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Professor Lozanov’s early research demonstrates how our thinking, our non-verbal and verbal communications, the methods we choose, and ultimately the sum total of our actions does one of two things – supports limiting beliefs that our learners bring into the learning program or helps to de-suggest those limiting beliefs so that the learners can replace them with more empowering ones. The question becomes, “What am I suggesting to the learners?” Once answered, we can either continue doing what we are doing or change it. That is why Dr. Lozanov called the method now known as Accelerated Learning, Suggestopedia, or the role of suggestion in pedagogy.

 

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