Are not words like student and teacher perfectly good words, critics will rightly ask? Should the effort not be to invest these words with respect, rather than invent new words and new jargon? The problem is that these words now convey meanings that are antithetical to the way schools should be structured if they are to serve the purposes the twenty-first century will impose. For many, teacher is synonymous with instructor and conveyor of knowledge. In schools of the future, teachers will not be sources of information; they will be guides to information sources. Too often the word student stirs up the image of a child sitting passively, receiving instruction from an adult. In the school of the future, students will produce knowledge, not simply receive it.
The need to use new language to create new thought ways seems clear.
From Phillip C. Schlechty, Schools for the 21st Century: Leadership Imperatives for Educational Reform, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1990. Yep, 1990. Dr. Schlechty is founder and CEO of the Schlechty Center for Leadership in School Reform and winner of the American Federation of Teachers’ Quest Citation.
And from Dr. Schlechty’s fable, A Wad of Gum —
Ichabod Tibbs made a declaration to himself that morning that his classroom was not well. A sickness had fallen upon his young students. As he stared long and hard at his class working diligently on their lessons, a large wave of anxiety came crashing into that area between his head and his heart, and, determined to renew his class’s spirit, Ichabod whispered to himself, “I need to locate and return to them the wonder and the why and the how.”