In a past seminar I attended, I heard a fascinating story from a traditional teacher who has been teaching for many years.
One day, he was running late and wasn’t able to prepare his lesson for a History class. He then started telling a story about why the White House was painted white. He explained that it was due to a fire that got the walls charred, so the walls were painted white to make it look better. Nobody in his class questioned it. He has a class of 13 students and all of them seemed to believe it.
The next day, he thought to himself, “Did I tell the children that fake story?” He realized that he needs to correct himself at some point. So when it’s time for a test, he included the “White House” story in it. The question on the paper was, “Are you certain that the White House is called the White House because it was painted white after a fire?” 12 out of his 13 students answered yes. As he was going over the test results, he then told the students that they got the answer wrong and they became furious. The teacher asked, “How certain are you that your answer was right?” The students answered, “Because you said so.”
This story serves as a reminder for both teachers and students. Sadly, some children will believe every single thing their teachers will say no matter what it was. But to teach the children to engage their learning, they need to challenge what they’re hearing. They have to be able to distinguish what is real and what is not.
At Acton Academy, the children are not lectured at. Instead, their questions are redirected, not just to engage them in learning, but also to keep their curiosity going.
Just like what Marshall Ganz said, “Challenging the status quo takes commitment, courage, imagination, and above all, dedication to learning.”