What do you think of when you hear the name Barack Obama? Some think race. Some think drone war. Some think health care. I like to think education. Here are my three favorite Obama quotes and what they mean for teachers.
1. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
Teachers are the architects of the future. If someone needs to change the world, we need look no further than the bathroom mirror. Schools can be sluggish to change policies, governments even more so. Change in education always begins in the classroom. The world’s education system is broken. Why would we expect politicians to fix it? Change starts with us. We can be the change that we seek.
2. “That's the good thing about being president; I can do whatever I want.”
Teaching is sometimes called the “egg carton profession”. Like eggs in an egg carton, teachers are all in the same place (a school) at the same time, but don’t get much contact with each other outside the staff-room. Our bosses and peers rarely watch us teach. This lack of supervision can be an opportunity, not a limitation. If you’ve read some research, been inspired by a blog post or a YouTube video or just want to try something new in class, you don’t need to submit a proposal for approval, just do it! That's one of the good things about being a teacher; you can do (almost) whatever you want.
3. “It's not enough to train today's workforce. We also have to prepare tomorrow's workforce.”
Children entering the classroom for the first time this year will join the workforce around 2030. We don’t know what the world will look like in 2030, but it is fair to say it’ll be pretty different to how it looks now. Knowledge is no longer the hot commodity it used to be. Teachers need to go beyond our subject matter and integrate creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking into lessons, promote cultural understanding and get students prepared to be the workforce of tomorrow.
The result of tomorrow’s election is unpredictable and so is the future of society. Waiting for politicians to save education is as likely to successful as their attempts to prevent global warming or win the war on drugs. Teachers might not be as respected as we used to be but
“We are still a people capable of doing big things and tackling our biggest challenges.”
Let's start tackling them now.