My Changing Educational Philosophy: Students as the Audience, Actors, or Directors?

Speaking with a group of students today, I thought about my journey as an educator. Working with a group of pre-service teachers, we explored how to evaluate resources for teaching and learning environments.  I shared a simple four-part approach that examines the learners, the biases, the types of support and argumentation used in a text, as well as what is left out or missing from the text.  As we examined various resources with this framework, I started to recognize how I changed as a teacher over the years.  This realization came in the form of a theater metaphor.

The Actor – In my earliest days as a teacher, I saw myself as the actor on the stage.  My students were the audience.  My job was to inform, inspire, and engage. At times, I was also the playwright.

The Director – At some point, I realized that my students could join me on the stage, or I could step off the stage and invite them to do the acting.  At times, some sat in the audience while others acted on the stage.  Sometimes I was in the audience.  At other times, I was on the stage alone or with the students.

Unknown Title – Over the last several years, I started to discover yet another possibility.  Now I realize that my students can often write the plays, direct them, act in them, design and build the sets, control the lighting and much more.  Every role that exists in making a stellar play is one that my students can fill. Sometimes I take one or more of these roles as well, but other times I help get things going and then step out of the way.

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