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Story 09: Beyond Museum Walls

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Sidebar: Teaching Teachers

Written by Jim Zien

The strongest case we can make for the wisdom of providing learning opportunities for children based on their interests is to provide that very same arrangement for the teacher. The significant behavior of teachers in the classroom grows out of what they are as whole human beings—or perhaps what they feel they are—grows as it does for all of us, out of a sense of power over significant aspects of their lives; not a sense of power over others, but their own lives, and so over their work. It seems better then to help teachers learn what is important to them as whole human beings, not just as professionals.

To illustrate this, let us take the example of a teacher learning to play the recorder. Our focus is on helping the person learn to be a better recorder player, to master the recorder technique needed to play the instrument. To be sure, it might be useful at some point to help with ideas about how to teach the recorder, but the main focus is on the thing itself. If learning the recorder is important enough for teachers to invest time and thought, then it has to change the way they deal with their students' need to play, to hear, or to write music. The teacher's newly gained sense of self power, a sense of competence, enlarges the teacher's view of self, and of the potential of others. It is this that we are after because it would make a difference in a child's and teacher's experience in school.

- Jim Zien
"Workshops at the Resource Center,"
Boston Children's Museum, 1971

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