Teacher Foundation

In Oliver Sacks’ The Mind’s Eye, the author explains that in medicine, doctor’s spend years learning the basics of medicine, but don’t spend a lot of time diving into many specific maladies until they present themselves. The truth is that they simply cannot learn about every condition under the sun, especially those that are rare. So, doctors must spend time doing research after they’ve met the patient, after they’ve had time to consider the symptoms, the medical history, and the story they tell when they walk into the office, clinic, or hospital. What doctors learn in medical school is just enough to get them started, not the final destination.

And so it is in education. A foundation is laid in schools of education, teacher prep programs, and alternative certification paths around the world. Future educators build up a background knowledge of general theories of cognition, gain familiarity with the general technology and tools, research their specific content area, and study past pedagogical practices. But then, the teacher is hired and the students arrive- each presenting with a different educational history, different cognitive habits and routines, different stories in their past and their present. The teacher must lean on their foundation, but also consider the student in front of them each and every time. They must consider the lessons that their work and their experience have taught them. Again, their education is just enough to get them started on their journey, not the final destination.