Words to Teach By

Computers Teach What Computers Can Be and Other Lessons from Great Educators

Written by

Christian Shockley

on August 24, 2018

To kick off a new school year, I thought I'd share some of my favorite wisdom from other teachers. After all, someone else can't always stand in the classroom with you, but they can help you prepare for the day.

1. Start wherever you can.

"To me, teaching is a holy calling, especially with students less likely to succeed. It’s the gift not only of not giving up on people, but of even figuring out where to begin.

You start wherever you can. You see a great need, so you thread a needle, you tie a knot in your thread. You find one place in the cloth through which to take one stitch, one simple stitch, nothing fancy, just one that’s strong and true. The knot will anchor your thread. Once that’s done, you take one more stitch — teach someone the alphabet, say, no matter how long that takes, and then how to read Dr. Seuss, and Charlotte’s Web, and A Wrinkle in Time, and then, while you’re at it, how to get a GED. Empathy is meaning."

—Anne Lamott

2. A computer teaches what a computer can be.

"Computers are no more your friends, and no more increasers of your brainpower, than slot machines…

Only well-informed, warm-hearted people can teach others things they’ll always remember and love. Computers and TV don’t do that.

A computer teaches a child what a computer can become.

An educated human being teaches a child what a child can become."

—Kurt Vonnegut

3. Warm-hearted teaching involves personal risk.

“If we want to grow as teachers—we must do something alien to academic culture: we must talk to each other about our inner lives—risky stuff in a profession that fears the personal and seeks safety in the technical, the distant, the abstract.”

—Parker Palmer

4. Learn the rules. Then throw out the rules.

"RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student — pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher — pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: Be self-disciplined — this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail, there’s only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It’s the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don’t try to create and analyze at the same time. They’re different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It’s lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities.” (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything — it might come in handy later."

—Corita Kent

What wisdom and lessons would you share with fellow teachers?

At Pathwright, we believe teaching is an art. It's more than content or expertise alone. Teaching is about designing space and relationships in which real learning can happen. If you'd like to design a teaching and learning experience using Pathwright, try it for free here.

You might also be interested in:

Our latest posts, straight to your inbox

Subscribe by email right now and never miss a post.