Plato and Play-Doh

play-doh1Here’s another post from one of our guest bloggers, Jessica Lyon. Check out her previous post here!

In my final semester of coursework here at BYU, I am currently taking a classical traditions course by Dr. Stephen Bay (CL CV 201). As I sat in lecture today my professor contrasted Plato and Aristotle – both students of Sophocles. While they both had the same teacher, they had vastly different opinions on how people learn. Aristotle believed that to learn about something, you needed to become an expert on it. Plato believed that we learn by experimenting with the world around us.

I am in agreeance with Plato. Aristotle became an expert on almost everything, but when he died, most of what Aristotle had determined as “facts” proved to be completely incorrect. To me, this proves that knowledge cannot be transferred without having some sort of experience. In my last post, I talked about how in order to teach, all we need to do is facilitate, or encourage knowledge. Plato echos those same sentiments.

Plato understood that in order to learn you just need to wonder and ask questions. Sophocles never formally taught or lectured Plato and Aristotle; they learned by asking him questions and experimenting with his philosophies. Wouldn’t it make sense to teach our students the same way the Greek philosophers were taught? Think of what our students could accomplish.

Here’s a challenge for you. Give each student in your class a piece of Play-Doh. Ask them to use the Play-Doh to prove to you if a sphere has sides or not. You don’t need to tell them how or what you expect to see, just let them go. I guarantee your students will come to the conclusion that there are no sides on a sphere. Probe their knowledge. Extend their knowledge. Encourage their knowledge… for that is your role as an educator.

Jessica Lyon is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning.


Book Talks

Getting students excited about books may be a challenge within your classroom. Book talks are a great quick way for teachers and fellow students to introduce books and hopefully catch some of the students’ interest. They can be done with any age, whole class or small group. The following are the four key ideas that should be included in a book talk:

  1. Personal Connections – Make personal connections to not only your life, but the lives of your students.
  2. Brief Overview of the Book – Talk about the main idea of the book and make sure not to give away the ending.
  3. Read a Passage – Choose a page or two to read aloud to the class.
  4. Invitation to Read the Book – Invite them to read to find what will happen in the book.

Knowing Joey

20donovan-span-articleLarge-v2 Teachers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. They are expected to cater to the needs of every student in their classroom, including those who are above grade level, those who are on grade level, and those who need special intervention. Teachers are stretched to an almost unimaginable level. Now, in addition to increasing class sizes, classrooms are being integrated with special needs. Teachers are required, usually with help of a special aid, to cater their lesson plans to all the students. This is an important issue in education, and one that I believe needs to be discussed and understood.

In high school, I had a close relationship with a boy with down syndrome named Joey. Joey was full of love and life. He lifted every individual he came into contact with. I loved seeing Joey at school. Joey is a wonderful example of the joy that can come through integrating those with special needs. His presence enriched both our education and his. He was able to become acquainted with the way in which classrooms are typically run, and the students in the class were able to learn from him about how to interact with those who live with disabilities. From an outside perspective, I can easily see the immense joy that Joey brought to each classroom he entered, but as a future educator, I see this integration with new eyes.

Joey’s teachers were stretched to a new level. They were required not only to deal with the average needs of any classroom but also with the far greater individual needs of this young man. Those in the classroom may have learned important lessons about acceptance, but did they learn the prescribed subject? Are teachers simply stretched too far with open, packed classrooms to correctly accommodate those with special needs?

 I can see the merit behind both sides of the issue. There are those who believe that those living with disabilities should be a permanent part of the classroom and those who believe that integration places too heavy a burden on education. I cannot say what is right because in each circumstance the answer may be different. But I believe that the tough choices must be made to ensure that all of the students are receiving the proper and necessary education. Where students with special needs fall in that spectrum is on an individual basis and should be handled as such. I am interesting in the seasoned teachers perspective on this issue. Feel free to comment and share your wisdom!


Learning as a Light

Light bulbEvery once in a while, we invite guest bloggers to share some of their thoughts and experiences with us. Today we’re excited to share a post by Jessica Lyon, a senior at BYU. Enjoy!

All my life, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. Here I am in the last portion of my schooling at BYU to become an elementary school teacher. When I sat in classes, I honestly never understood the relevance of what I was being taught. Teaching to me was something everyone could do. Everyone can be a teacher, right?

But, today I realized something. I no longer want to be a teacher. I want to be a leader, a mentor, a facilitator, a guide, an educator. It’s not all about opening up the kids’ brains and dumping everything possible into it. I have been thinking a lot about what education is really about. Education is about becoming a learner.

Why did we start schools in the first place? To educate ourselves so that we could learn more about everything. We weren’t content with just using the same knowledge forever. Learning never ends! As humans, our brains seek that learning and have that natural curiosity. You can see that in a child who always asks, “Why?” When we get older, it’s not that our curiosity is gone—it’s just stifled.

Life is all about learning. Sometimes I think as an adult that I’ve got it made and I know everything there is to know. I think that up until one of my students comes up and says, “Mrs. Lyon, did you know that…?” and then spouts off some brilliant fact or new idea.

My job isn’t to teach kids anything but how to learn. I simply enhance their learning by adding to what they have learned in the past. It’s not about the core or the test or the grades. It’s about being a learner.

Jessica Lyon is a senior from Cedar Hills, Utah studying Elementary Education. In her spare time she enjoys preparing her 3rd grade classroom for the Fall and learning about learning.