Several weeks ago I came to the realization that my concept of “best” teachers has changed dramatically. Perhaps that awareness came in part because it dawned on me that so many of my best teachers have died. But clearly my definition has broadened and become enriched rather than diminished as it has changed across the course of my lifetime.
Without doubt early in my life my best teachers were members of my immediate family—in fact they still are and I love and respect them dearly for how they have impacted my life. Also, I can easily identify significant high school, college, and graduate school master teachers and Carroll emeriti who nurtured my love of learning, introduced me to new ways of thinking, challenged and encouraged me, and served as role models of scholarship, intellectual curiosity, fairness, integrity, and decency.
Many of my “best” teachers, today, however, are much younger than I, or are of different species, or are scattered across the globe or, are virtual, rather than human.
I learn so much from playing with two (and almost two-year-olds) and four-year-olds in all their innocence.
Robin-the-Newf at 8 years of age continues to teach this Old Dog, if not new tricks, the value of being puppy-like.
My research assistants are always teaching me new things or by their behaviors reminding me that I am no longer nor ever will again be 21-years-of age! My new Internet International friends in Turkey and Lithuania and Spain remind me, through their teaching, of the universality of a belief in the importance of teaching and learning and of the importance of creating bridges of learning activities across age, culture, language, and gender differences. And, I find more and more resources available for computer-mediated professional development and self-directed learning.