“A law cannot create as sense of responsibility.” -Arundhati Ghosh
I’m inspired to write this blog today from a podcast that I listened to this morning (Enough- The Minimal Mac Podcast). In the episode they were talking about twitter and discussing the urgent need to share in Twitter. In this dialogue one of the hosts mentions he feels a responsibility to share information he has. It was a brief comment and the other host didn’t even comment; it was as though they both thought it was too obvious to even reinforce with affirmation.
That comment got to me because of where I am currently in my own experiences with teaching and collaborating with other teachers. I have often found myself frustrated with the hoarding of information… of not sharing. Teachers are expected to collaborate, just search any state teacher evaluation document for the words collaborate, share, and communicate. It’s there! But it seems that teachers have difficulty doing it.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that collaboration is a difficult task. I find myself struggling with it all the time. It is easy to assume that it would be easier to get the job done on my own, however that approach misses the point that true collaboration results in more than any one contributor could achieve on their own. It is a case of where 1 + 1 = 3. The synergy of different ideas filtered through lenses of different experiences open possibilities that would never have been discovered.
What concerns me is that mandating collaboration isn’t really the final solution to the problem. Educational leaders and policy makers can mandate that collaboration happen, but in the end it is up to the individual to realize their responsibility. Before anyone will accept a mandate to collaborate the way they are expected to, they need feel a sense of responsibility.
So do we (educators) have a responsibility to share? This is how I see it:
We teach, because we should. A teacher is a master learner. We learn, we see a value in others learning what we learned, we create opportunities for others to learn.
A true passion for learning would manifest itself in sharing what you learn so others can learn too. This is easy to see when you consider the excitement that even the most introverted individual can express when you hit on a topic that interests them. Conversation can be an opportunity to share what interests someone the most. Things that interest us, cause us to want to spread that interest in others. A teachers interest is learning. If learning is your passion, then sharing what you have learned is motivated by a sense of responsibility.
So what does this mean for new standards and teacher evaluations that set expectations for sharing? A mandate will not create a sense of responsibility, but it can inspire reflection, conversation and shift focus to a frequently undervalued area of the educational community.