What Is Important To Teach Now? Reflection Over Reaction
I was deeply moved this morning by an essay by Deborah J. Cohan on the Inside Higher Ed website. Below are a couple of sentences that stood out to me. I hope they’ll prompt you to take a few minutes to read the whole piece. It’s beautifully written, and the message of reflection over reaction is one we might all take to heart.
- “A crisis should not prompt us to add more; it should encourage us to distill things to an essence and to model for students how and what to prioritize.” And,
- “What are we modeling for students when we engage in a frenzy about teaching methods and tools amid a global crisis that will have epic impacts on health care, economics, politics and human rights? Instead, what might we want to model? What do we really think our students need and want right now? What do we as educators most need and want right now?” And,
- “I want this moment to be an opportunity for my students to pause and think about how they might be better and healthier selves, citizens and leaders in the face of uncertainty, crisis, fear and change. I want them to think about how and where they can be of the most service and how they can channel their energy to effect change.”
What can we offer to our students right now that is going to be most meaningful and lasting? We are not mechanics, or technicians, or technocrats. We’re teachers, and researchers, and subject matter experts, and discussion leaders, and facilitators, and mentors, and guides, and coaches—and we occupy dozens of other fluid and evolving and meaningful roles in relation to our students. Perhaps Cohan’s wise words will help us to prioritize which of these roles are most important in particular moments as this crisis evolves from minute to minute and day to day.