If you analyze the word “education,” you will find that our English word derives from the past participle of the Latin word educare, similar to educere (or, “to lead out,” which is the source of our word “educe.”). In other words, one of the purposes of education is to bring forth from a student that which is innately in them: their talent and passion in life.
Every child has gifts. So, education, at its best, doesn’t simply push information one-way at students. Education should also help bring forth what is best in the individual, so they can grown, fulfill their dreams, and make a valid contribution to themselves and others.
One of my favorite stories around an instance where an educator failed to educe in the classroom is the one that Sir Ken Robinson (author of the excellent book, The Element) likes to tell about a certain Liverpool music teacher back in the 1950’s. This teacher actually had two of the future Beatles (Paul McCartney and George Harrison) in his class, and never recognized, or encouraged their musical talent in any way. Can you imagine?
As I highlighted in a recent series of videos on classroom audio, one of the major barriers to classroom learning is when students are not receiving information in an intact way. This is more common than you might believe.
I have spent my career in educational audiology. I can tell you from professional experience that there typically are many barriers to the audibility of classroom communication. And the connection between a student and their teacher, and a student and their peers, is essential.
There are some acoustical barriers you probably can’t change: the HVAC system in the room, the noise coming from a nearby band room, or outdoor traffic. You can change the physical structure of a classroom: the architecture and acoustical nature of the room. But you’d probably only change this once.
Another way that I advocate is to expand the “bubble” of the teacher’s voice and, when appropriate, the student-to-peer voices, in a room. We do this typically by distributing the vocal audio signals electronically, evenly throughout the room, so all students have access to the audibility and intelligibility of what is being communicated.
I like to think that when teachers and students can properly hear one another — and they take the time to truly listen to one another — then it is possible to bring forth each student’s talent and passion, and help nurture the kernel of what they can contribute from their heart.
So here’s to all you teachers partnering in educing the talents of all your students through better communication. I know every teacher thinks of the kids they teach as rocks stars. But some of your kids might actually be one day. Give them that chance.