Think critically!!

Let me offer you today an interview straight from a British International School…

– Mrs. Schier, you have been teaching in an international school in Poland for over two years. Could you please let us know about your career path?

– Well, I studied English Philology in Poland, then moved to the US, married, and got an MA in School Counselling in Chicago (while raising two sons and working full time).

– What did you teach there?

– I taught ESL* to immigrant students from many countries; a lot of them were from Eastern Europe, but also from East and South Asia, South America, other European countries, and Africa; in all, they represented over 40 nations! I also worked with gifted students in summer and winter classes. (I even had an opportunity to once meet Dr. Torrance, called the “Father of Creativity.”)

– What do you like most in your job?

– I love when students have this “aha” moment, when you see the spark of understanding in their eyes, when sudden truth has been comprehended or discovered. My way of teaching is very interdisciplinary. I like to teach thematically across disciplines. I also love to motivate students to become self-directed learners. I like them to investigate, probe, ask questions, and discover and internalize truths for themselves. The way to achieve this is to help them make connections, form opinions, and reflect on their learning.

– Mrs. Schier, how has your job changed over the years?

– I think the format of materials students learn from has changed. More and more, textbooks, magazines, and other learning materials present information in a piecemeal way, organized according to the visual layout specific to the Internet. It’s visual and colorful, but scattered all over the page, presented in snippets instead of longer, connected wholes. It caters to students’ short attention spans, assumes they do not possess patience to read longer pieces, and cultivates the short span in that way. I love Literacy and literature and I believe it’s crucial for people to be able to read books for pleasure and learning. Reading is usually a prerequisite for good writing and being able to think critically.

– You have heard about the PISA test results, haven’t you?

– In my opinion, what lacks in American schools is often academic rigor, high expectations and demanding curriculum for all students, and good study habits. What is positive, is creativity, group work, and friendly and respectful relations between faculty and students.

– Would you recommend a book for further thinking?

– Yes, I recently read a very interesting book about education, « The smartest kids in the world » by Amanda Ripley.

– Thank you, Mrs. Schier.

– And thank you for lending me Ken Robinson’s book [The Element].

* English as a second language (for non-native speakers)



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