So many posts on this blog deconstruct the idea of school. For example:
I'm constantly shocked at what I discover about schools. I can't believe how much de-schooling I have to do for myself to see clearly when I look at the idea of school.
Recently, I was responding to a comment from MH – one of my favorite commenters here – who said that she took her son to a non-credentialed rock expert to help him identify a pile of rocks he had.
I also have a son with a pile of rocks, so I understood that.
I also understood the idea of thinking of the whole world as teachers instead of thinking of only credentialed teachers as teachers.
It's the most dangerous assumption we make about school: that there are teachers and everyone else. Really, there are babysitters and non-babysitters, because only some people can cope with thirty kids for eight hours.
But everyone is a teacher, because everyone has something to give in this world.
We can learn from anyone. For example it doesn't take a teacher trained in phonics to teach reading. That idea was debunked when the whole language movement was born. But it doesn't take someone who was taught what whole language is to teach reading either. Because most kids can learn to read on their own. They teach themselves when they are ready. I get this information from Lisa Nielsen, reading specialist and New York City public school administrator. But you can get this information from a wide range of people—if you're open to it.
But the world is not organized by subject. The world is full of people who can teach things that aren't an official subject. Try thinking this way: everyone is a teacher. Including you. And including everyone your kid meets on a normal day of running errands and playing games.
The idea that everyone is a teacher is so empowering. It reminds us that we are each special in our knowledge of the world – we just need to frame it that way to see it. And doing so reminds us that we each have something to give.
To insist that traditional school teachers are somehow the only ones qualified to teach undermines the very traits that most make us human: curiosity and generosity.