First, let’s discuss what the “Sage on the Stage” is and what this looks like in a K-12 classroom. When I was a student, I assumed my teacher knew everything. And I mean, everything. I suppose as a kid we assume that our parents and other adults are the holders of knowledge and they will impart their wisdom on us when we are old enough to understand and retain that information. To some extent, this is true. Our parents and other adults teach us how to walk, talk, and interact with the world by modeling that behavior for us. As children, we are taught right from wrong, right from left, and how to write and read.
And here is the problem. It’s not that we’re hiring unqualified educators, it’s that there is quite impossibly too much information to be the holder of all knowledge. And that’s not just in today’s time, but in all time. Teachers cannot and should not be expected to be all knowing, or a “sage” that imparts knowledge on children. The traditional approach of a teacher standing in front of a room full of children and speaking at them should be moved to the background and a new approach involving the facilitation of learning needs to be implemented. Not only does this allow more students to learn in different ways that are best suited to their abilities, but it allows the teacher to step back without needing to have the answer to every single question that students will ask. That’s what Google is for.
This shift from teacher as the holder of knowledge to the student as a learner of information can provide new ways to foster student wonder and develop 21st century skills like critical thinking, problem solving, and curiosity that are often lacking in traditional education settings. It’s okay to tell students, “I don’t know” and “let’s explore that together.” Not only does it make you more approachable as a teacher, but it encourages students to explore new ideas on their own and take ownership of their thinking and learning. Because, after all, aren’t we trying to make our students more connected to the real world through our teaching?
With over a decade of experience as an educator, I want to share some of the best practices that I've discovered for bringing the real world into the classroom.