Understanding by Design Chapter 2, Essential Questions Chapter 1, Personal Article

In her article Do No Harm’: A Hippocratic Oath for Schools, Courtney Stewart discusses the purpose of a doctor: to treat a patient.  Doctors do not accept failure, nor do they treat multiple patients at the same time the same way.  When discussing the roles and views of teachers, Stewart asks the questions, “Is it ok to accept any failure?  Why do we tend to lump our classes together and teach each student the same thing the same way, instead of treating them individually?”    The questions that this article presented, I believe, ties in nicely to our assigned readings.  When continuing to consider the question “What do we teach?” and building off of last week’s theme of “big-concept” teaching, this week’s readings covered the theme of asking ‘essential questions’ and teaching concepts that can be transferable.  I say that the article ties in nicely with the readings because failure in teaching can derive from teaching our students “to know.”  Teaching each student for their specific and individual needs can take more time and energy than a teacher may be willing to take on.  Naturally, teaching a class the same thing can be easier and less time-consuming.  Already, failure can derive from not identifying that each individual student may have a different way of processing the information.  To continue this theme, teaching our students the same basic information and asking questions that yield a right answer can be sufficient for acquiring passing percentages for Standard Learning tests.  But does this mean our students can comprehend or even apply the content?  We can celebrate some measure of victory when an overwhelming students pass and graduate, but there will be some that fail because they did not know content or understand it.  Teaching for understanding requires more time but it will allow students to be able to transfer themes in a subject throughout the course of a year and be able to distinguish similarities in the content.  Learning for understanding allows students to apply the big themes when they come across new content.  Therefore, when asking ourselves “What do we teach?”, we teach that failure is not an option; misunderstanding, however, is not failure and rather an okay thing.  Misunderstanding is feedback from our students that shows us, as teachers, there are better ways of conveying the main concepts to the students through teaching the content.



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