I just added two very important slides to my deck, or arrows in my quiver. Last weekend at a Unity Church service we attended with friends in Santa Fe, the minister selected two quotes which hold both personal power and a real message for educators. The Tao te Ching tells us:
“To attain knowledge, add things every day. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
And someone wise said:
“It takes wisdom to know what to cut. It takes courage to do it.”
I have increasingly been asking teachers to hold up a mirror to their practice and to repeatedly and deeply ask “what am I doing that I could turn over to my students?” Even teachers who routinely practice many of the concepts of deeper learning often start a sentence with something like, “I built a list of options that my students can select from…”, and I rhetorically ask “Could your students have participated in building that list?”
If students are conditioned over many years to just ring the bell and get a treat, as they get older they will not have the skills to own and design their own learning. We must constantly invite them into the process. Most educators in my workshops know this to be true. They know that cutting away is the key to wisdom, and they know that wisdom, not knowledge, is the unique power that we have to offer our students. What we need is the courage to actually do it. Those who do, within learning systems that allow it, quickly see how much more engaged and powerful their students become.