Saturday, May 16, 2015

To Teach, the Journey in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Turner

Radical and philosophical are two words I'd use to describe To Teach by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner. It will make you question every tradition, rule, and classroom procedure we foist upon children in the name of education and discipline.

In this book, Ayers attempts to squash the notion of the mythical heroic teacher "saving" his students from their lives, but in a somewhat contradictory fashion, this book is also a kind of hero's journey in its own right, as the teacher sets out on a quest with her students and returns transformed.

Rather than write a full review, I thought I'd just share some of my favorite quotes from the book:

The universe is expanding, and knowledge is infinite. At some point, good teachers must plunge into the unknown alongside their students, to adventure on together (5). 

Teaching at its best is not a matter of technique -- it's primarily an act of love (11).

Knowledge, like love, is something you can give away without losing a thing (44).

I want to build spaces where life is lived in the present tense -- where life in school is life itself (45).

All I want to do is teach a really good kindergarten class to 18-year-olds (58). - Avi Lessing

The vapid, formulaic style in which [textbooks] are written functions as a sort of muzac for the mind (69).

Standards are important, it's true. But who decides what the standards are? And can standards ever be definitively summed up? Since knowledge is infinite, and knowing intersubjective and multidimensional, anyone who tries to bracket thinking in any definitive sense is, in essence, killing learning (74).

In some ways every student, every teacher is an entire universe, and it's the relationship, the interaction, that makes learning come to life (75).

Teaching is the vocation of vocations, a calling that shepherds a multitude of other callings (93).

If teachers are never self-critical, they will become dogmatic, losing their capacity for renewal and growth (98).

Education at its best rests on twin pillars of enlightenment and liberation (121).

And then there's this:
To Teach
My favorite sequence in the whole book. Because even though it's about an interaction with a kindergartner, so much of this rings true with a few of my middle schoolers. #TheStruggleIsReal

Cross-posted to my teaching blog, Use Your Outside Voice.

To Teach, the Journey in Comics by William Ayers and Ryan Alexander-Tanner
Published: May 1, 2010
Publisher: Teachers College Press
Pages: 128
Genre/Format: Nonfiction sequential art
Audience: Educators
Disclosure: Purchased copy

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