Educating vs. Teaching

My various roles as a teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal at the Middle and High School levels have helped shape my views of education.  Reflecting on my own education I think about the skills and competencies that I learned both inside and outside of the classroom.  Teaching a child is only part of their education and occurs in a silo.  Educating a chid is a collaborative effort that often involves failure.

I’ve noticed a shift in the students that I have worked with over the last ten years.  The accountability era has produced students who want to be taught how to do it the “right way” so that they can achieve the “right answer”.  Many of the students have been terribly successful on standardized tests yet they view failure as fatal.  They experience anxiety beyond anything that I could have imagined at their age which in many cases is crippling and results in depression and increased suicide rates.

This is the critical distinction between teaching and educating a student.  I believe that educating involves allowing students to drive the process of developing their curiosity and helps them embrace failure as the first step of success.  Most entrepreneurs fail multiple times and what they learn through failure is vital to their later success.  Many times in life there is no right and wrong answer with multiple avenues for solving a problem.  Educators teach students how to identify the right problem, brainstorm, prototype solutions, and test those solutions.

Lastly, educating students connects the classroom with the outside world.  The ability for students to organize their work, identify and solve problems, communicate effectively, and collaborate with diverse groups is critical to their future.  No standardized measure can truly capture what matters most in an education.  You can teach to a test but no test will ever measure a true education.

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