What if we decided not to succumb to theocracies?


Perhaps that’s how I thought of myself in the classroom. I acted “as if” I would not succumb, “as if” I could be me despite an authority relegating me to a lesser position. Perhaps my spirit insisted that I be who I am no matter the circumstances.

When the superintendent dissolved my middle school progressive classroom into a traditional format, I returned to teaching social studies in a departmentalized team without skipping a beat. I did not win, but acted “as if” I had.

We survive as teachers, in part, because we’ve long appeased the theocracies, which originated in the factory-designed schools of the early twentieth century. We often resisted reform efforts by acting “as if” we’ve reformed.

Yet, we still reside at the bottom of a hierarchical ladder, and despite working alone in private, isolated classrooms, we defer to those at the top. We perpetuate an “us versus them” relationship.

What if we instead believed that we are the key deciders in our classrooms? (We are, of course!) What if we acted “as if” we were in charge and became decision-makers, not only in our classrooms but also in our schools? Why not act “as if” we have an active role in governing our schools, as our university colleagues do? What might happen?

Taking Pullman’s counsel, we can create a sense of empowerment for us and for our students. We could model, as well, the role of active learners by asking provocative questions and pondering outcomes.

Teaching “as if” would encourage us to teach to make worthwhile learning happen for every child, irrespective of the often bogus requirements and demands of oppressive theocracies.

Are you willing?


For more on this crucial issue see Chapter 17 “Teach As If” in Teaching from the Middle of the Room: Inviting Students to Learn from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Teaching-Middle-Room-Frank-Thoms/dp/0615358918.