Challenging educational traditions to create more meaningful and relevant experiences for students.

by Josh Stumpenhorst

Grades 9-12


I believe that the most important thing we can do to create more meaningful and relevant experiences for our students is to challenge the educational traditions that shaped our own learning.

Every teacher operates with some degree of what I call “survivor bias.” Almost instinctively, we teach the way we were taught, thinking that if a particular strategy or approach worked for us when we were students the same approach will work for students today.

Students, of course, have very different experiences from our own. To mature beyond our bias, we need to re-assess how we teach by:

–Assessing why we are doing what we do in the classroom and having conversations with others about our practice,

–Taking action to make sure that these conversations lead to purposeful change, and

–Recognizing that such change takes place within the classroom – it is seldom led by departments of education that come to teachers with solutions.

Collectively, teachers everywhere are already challenging what we think we know about education. To take advantage of their experience, we need to create teacher networks that purposefully question educational practices and support teachers as they drive real change.

About Josh Stumpenhorst

Josh Stumpenhorst is a junior high history and English teacher in suburban Chicago, IL where he lives with his wife and two sons. In addition to te...

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