The ‘Human Element’ in Teacher Training

“Intelligence plus character, that is the goal of true education; The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically; Life’s most urgent question is,

What are you doing for others?’” Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a consultant with Creating Curricula for Social Change, an educator of over thirty years and an award winning author of several educational resources, I have witnessed the need for reform in teacher training; As suggested in the foreword of Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character, an atmosphere of academics needs to be blended with ‘the human element’ where self respect and respect for each others’ diversities are emphasized. This can initiate the reversal of low reading scores, nationally high high-school drop-out rate (compared to other countries) and high illiteracy rate among juvenile offenders.

In this technological age in which students of all ages are more and more alienated, teacher-training needs to be ‘humanized’ in the spirit of ‘oneness.’ It needs ***to inspire, motivate and empower future teachers and in turn their future students

1. to identify their innate heroic attributes

2. to identify their unique intelligences

3. to collaborate on projects as a team for the betterment of self and each other.

4. to learn to respond to challenges with positive action for the good of all.

Last year I had the pleasure of creating curricula and implementing a pilot program for future teachers in Florida Atlantic University’s Department of Education in partnership with Dr. Susannah Brown, Associate Professor. Lesson plans from ‘Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character’ which emphasized the aforementioned were included. The program encouraged future teachers to discover their strengths, uniqueness, talents, interest and passion via the arts and share them with their peers in a harmonious, inclusiveness exchange of oneness. This was reflected in the creation of their collage exhibit entitled, “Art has Character…Images of how Visual Art Supports Positive Interaction for the Betterment of Self and Others” . Thus, each future teacher’s ‘personal’ collage was combined to four or five others and resulted in a large collaborative collage. This resulted in self respect as well as respect for each others’ interests and diversities and reflected in student personal growth and achievement. The exhibit proved that ‘Separateness can be transformed into Oneness.’

When asked if they would use the activities from the pilot program in their future classrooms, participating future teachers said they would because:

1. the ‘project has shown how important it is to be flexible and the benefits of steppin out of our comfort zone.’

2. they allowed us to ‘self reflect and know who we are and how we feel to better our future and the world.’ the activities showed the need for me to ‘be a role model so that students may follow my positive examples.’

3. the program ‘let the students show something different than what we see of them and learn more about our classmates.’

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As recommended in ‘Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character,” an anthology of stories and art by, for and about their peers as well as lesson plans with thought-provoking questions, teacher training should stimulate future teachers to teach their future students to apply, analyze, synthesize, evaluate and build reading comprehension and vocabulary as well as improve writing skills. What better way to achieve teacher accountability!

***excerpts from Teens Are Heroes, Too! Challenges, Choices & Character, available for national distribution to future teachers in all colleges and universities.

Vera Hirschhorn, M.S.
Educational Consultant….Creating Curricula for Social Change

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