Part of my inspiration for being a teacher is that I believe I can stave off the Zombie Apocalypse (or Zombocalypse as a friend offered). Not single-handedly, mind you. My occasional delusions of grandeur are never quite so grand. I believe by working to develop the minds of our students and by teaching them to think creatively and work better both individually and with groups we can push back the Zombocalpse.
This post seems to have developed an “I believe that children are the future” vibe, which was originally unintended but I am embracing.
Last December, I read a great blog post from edweek.org called “Teachers as Brain-Changers: Neuroscience and Learning,” which really excited me. The article discusses the brain’s neural pathways that develop when learning which make different kinds of thinking more fluid the more it is used. I felt my role as an English and World History teacher developed into “Brain-Changer.” I even debated making business cards. My new goal was to develop neural pathways to ensure student’s development of critical thinking and problem solving skills. While my activities did not shift too much, I felt that mostly every activity should develop student’s minds. I moved from quick rote-memorization quizzes to ensure student reading to open notebook quizzes in which students apply what they have learned. In short, my mindset changed.
Last night, @TeachPleau said in a conversation about 21st Century Skills that “the content is the tool that we use to teach the process & skills.” This statement shocked me for a full moment, but made me reflect again on my role in the classroom. Is my content still important? Yes. But creating engaging lessons for students to experience thinking and learning is more important. We need our students to be ready to adapt to deal with a changing economy and the potential* Zombocalypse.
And now for how all of the work that we (educators) do will delay the Zombie Apocalypse! The current Zombocalypse theory is that either a virus will be released into the air or that someone infected in a laboratory somewhere will be accidentally released into the world. As zombism rapidly spreads throughout the population, it will be our students who will be working quickly with a large number of variables to develop the cure. If they are simply taught how to memorize and regurgitate, humanity may be doomed. If they are taught effective critical thinking, they will be more adept at coming up with possible solutions to this catastrophic event. They will save humanity (for now)!
That is why I teach – to stop the Zombocalypse.
As an aside, while I am trusting of the future generations, I still plan to keep in shape just in case I have to run from Zombies. I think it was Ronald Reagan who said, “Trust, but be ready for the Zombie Apocalypse.” Truer words were never spoken.
Oh, for a good run for you iPhone users, check out the Zombies, Run! app. It is the best way to start your morning.
* Some may say eventual.