Chief Learner

One of my favorite education quotes is “The teacher is the chief learner in the classroom” by Donald Graves.

I heard a remnant of another quote by him recently, so I was searching for it. It is about encouraging students to bring their obsessions into the classroom. While I didn’t find the source or exact quote, I did run across this — the philosophy of education by Mrs. Wilson, primary teacher at Minds in Motion Academy in Ohio, and couldn’t leave it without sharing it. She said it exactly like I believe it!

If we are truly to build on children’s natural creative abilities, we need to create a classroom of the possible in our program….a classroom where it is possible for children to explore their obsessions, take risks in their thinking and apprentice themselves to many other learners; a classroom where there is a shift in the focus of control from teacher to student, where students take more responsibility for the problems they chose to solve; a classroom where it is possible for children to create personal inventories of their knowledge and their stories.where they aren’t expected to check their cultures at the door; a classroom where there is time for students to be the learners that they are born to be, and where we as teachers appreciate and delight in the extraordinary creative abilities of each child.

Beautifully said, Mrs. Wilson! I want to go to your school!

Now I’m still looking for that obsession quote by Donald Graves. I need to read some of his work!

7 thoughts on “Chief Learner

  1. Denise, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I wish I knew the Donald Graves quote that started your search. Not surprised to see he wrote the words about teachers being the chief learner, he always espoused the value of teachers writing and sharing their writing and the process with students.

    The philosophy of Mrs. Wilson, wow, great vision for what a class could be like. She must have looked into your class, and the other genius hour people, for the inspiration though.

    Good luck with finding the obsession quote.

  2. This really struck me: “they aren’t expected to check their cultures at the door” How often does school expect kids to do that? TOO MUCH!

    Thanks, Denise!

  3. Andy and Laura,
    Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed reading the philosophy too!
    Thank you for the compliment, Andy! I wish my classroom were that–I hope it is. I aspire to it. Making mistakes along the way, but it’s so nice to have my PLN encouraging and experimenting along with me!

    I thought the same thing about the cultures, Laura! Gulp…I wonder when I unwittingly require them to “check their cultures at the door.” It was a good reminder.


  4. As a parent of one of the students in Mrs. Wilson’s class, I can tell you that she has successfully translated her philosophy into reality. She is one of the most caring teachers that I’ve ever met. Every day we send our daughter to her classroom is a joy.

  5. Mr. Gulczinski,
    How nice of you to comment here about Mrs. Wilson’s class! I’m tickled to hear from you. I really meant my comment about wanting to go to this school! Perhaps someday I can visit.

    I’m glad your daughter can go to a school that promotes the possible! Lovely!

    Denise Krebs

  6. I also have a child that was in Mrs. Wilson’s classroom this past school year. We are very blessed to have such a teacher. She is simply wonderful. She has a contagious enthusium for teaching and truly strives, as Frank says, to translate her philosophy into reality. Additionally, she is supported by a school which embraces flexibility and has a focus on learning (not taking tests). This allows our teachers to experiment, collaborate, and provide an environment truly engaging for the students. All children should have access to such schools and teachers.

  7. Mr. Hagan,
    Thanks again for the testimony about your school. I love it that your whole school has embraced the philosophy that all students are creative learners who need space to develop! Wonderful!


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