Teachers Built “It”

September 4, 2012 — Leave a comment

The claim “I built it” is being tossed around this political season.  I am not a fan of the unspecific pronoun “it”, but as “it” in this context stands for any one of a number of diverse businesses that power our nation’s economy, the inclusive, ubiquitous pronoun will have to serve.

While I agree that the success of our nation is due in large part to those who “built it [businesses]” in the past and to those individuals who will “build it [businesses]” in the future, I feel the need to point out that there is one profession that has more claim to this catch phrase then others. If America is a world power today because of those who “built it,” the individuals who “built it” are teachers. For example:

  • Teachers have “built it” by  teaching the reading and comprehension of texts in differing levels of complexity;
  • Teachers have “built it” by teaching formal and informal writing to communicate;
  • Teachers have “built it” by explaining the essentials of numeracy;
  • Teachers have “built it” by presenting the basic  laws of motion, gravity, and energy;
  • Teachers have “built it” by clarifying the organization of elements which compose the organic and inorganic on the planet;
  • Teachers have “built it” by explaining  science of colors and techniques of expression or the science of sound and musical techniques of expression or the science of drama and the techniques of performance;
  • Teachers have “built it” by presenting instruction in other languages to promote global understanding;
  • Teachers have literally  “built it” with hands-on lessons in engineering and industrials arts.
  • Teachers have “built it” by presenting lessons of history; the lessons of economic principles to budding businessmen, strategic principles to future military leaders, and political science to future politicians;
  • Teachers have “built it” by instilling an appreciation for civics and law to our nations’ citizens and to those who directly interpret and defend our Constitution.

Teachers at every grade level, teaching youngsters in kindergarten to teaching adults in graduate school, have had a hand in building our nation’s skills and developing our national brain trust. Teachers in all schools, public and private, have dedicated time and energy in the passing of information from one generation to the next. Teachers of all disciplines have shared their expertise in the hopes of building a better society.

Granted, not all teaching has been successful. There have been teachers that have missed steps in the building of knowledge; students may not have gained information that would have been beneficial. Some lessons have ended in failure, and despite best efforts, statistics on literacy for American adults vary over 80%. There is more that can be done to improve education, and so there are teachers working to “build” a better education system for all citizens.

Teachers are “building it” using the Bloom’s taxonomy of knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Teachers are “building it” with an appreciation for the different learning styles of students from the verbal-linguistic to the  logical-mathematical; from the visual-spatial to the bodily-kinesthetic; from the interpersonal to the intrapersonal, and from the musical to the naturalistic.

In classrooms everywhere, whether a student is seated in an august university or in a home school kitchen, there are teachers who are at this very moment teaching students how to “build it”, whatever “it” might be. In each of these classrooms, the “building on” knowledge and understanding is critical to the success of what will be “built” in the future.

The phrase, “I built it” might even have its origins in the classroom. How often has teacher affirmed a student’s success with “You did it!” or “Look what you did!” rather than self-serving “Look what you just learned because a teacher taught you.”

Yes, our nation has been blessed with  inventors, industrialists, and entrepreneurs who can claim that they “built” successful economic enterprises. Yes, our nation has great artists, philosophers, and communicators who “built” our formidable culture.Yes, our nation is rich with independent and collaborative thinkers who now “build” pathways for our future.

But do not forget that there have been the teachers who “built it”in the classrooms where “it” stands for intellectual curiosity, understanding, and knowledge. The “it” that teachers build is education.

I am glad there are so many Americans of every political persuasion who proudly can state, “I built it!” Just so they remember that they “built it” because their teachers taught them how.

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