It is a community college literature class in Pennsylvania.
Laid-off mill workers, retirees and students fresh out of high school choose their seats and prepare for the first lecture.
Their professor, a big guy with eyes that brighten at this
new adventure looks out at the class and asks,
“Who is paying to be here?”
Some raise their hands quickly, others raise their hands almost
reluctantly, trying to understand the point.
Nodding at the forest of hands, the professor asks another question.
“Who is being paid to be here?”
At this, the professor raises his hand. He tilts his head to the class and says,
“Then I must be your employee. It is my job to ensure that this class meets your needs and expectations.”
Thinking back on this, the now retired professor glows with pride.
If teachers would greet their young students with a pledge to help them learn and grow, he said, then they could share this great adventure of learning together. Why force students to memorize and recite the prepared lesson of the day when they can learn so much more pursuing their own interests and goals?
In an educational system where curriculum is enforced upon
students, where is there room for curiosity, collaboration, and the
empowerment of students, teachers and parents?
This professor turned his classroom right side up, helping his
students find joy and purpose in their own learning and growth.
When I left him, the professor flashed that mischievous smile of one who inspires magic and delight in others.