11 Comments

  1. I love this story, George, but I would add a fourth “stonecutter” conversation. The fourth stonecutter would be even happier than the third. His response to the question, “What are you doing?” would be, “I’m not quite sure, but I know that there is something here that is just waiting to emerge. I’m going to do my part to make sure that happens.”

    I think that, sometimes, education becomes all about what we do to students in order that they become who we think they should be. I’ve come to learn that a true education is really about allowing our students to become who they really are.

    The form is there, waiting to be released. Perhaps?

      • On one level, the comment I made borders on being cute or inspirational. On another level, however, (and this is where I hope we could eventually go) this entire post, including all of the comments, could become the stuff of some wider conversations about the nature of teaching and learning and what we really mean when we talk about both, on their own and together.

        There are lots of ideas floating around out there, and many of them make for wonderful posters and quotations, but their real value, I suspect, comes from the effect they have on our theories, designs and pedagogies.

        In this case, is teaching about bringing something new to the table, or is it about releasing something that is already there in our students? How do teaching and learning relate to each other? How should they relate to each other in the way that we design learning environments.

        Philosopher Gert Biesta addresses some of this in his latest book, “The Beautiful Risk of Education”

  2. I enjoyed the parallel between the two stories. Its not a sprint but a marathon. As teachers we are only resources to help students along in what is a lifelong journey of learning.

  3. @bryensue

    I love how these stories focused on the fact that it is a journey we are all on. Being the best you that you can be. Students don’t do learning, it’s what learning does to them counts. I have seen many a school motto ” Learning to live.” What a great concept.
    George, you are inspiring many of us to keep looking for the next learning opportunity. Come and visit us in Australia. I love how inspired we educators get when a student smiles as they say, “I’m learning.”

  4. Great story, and a great rewrite. True, and related story:

    When I meet someone for the first time, usually as part of the small talk, we ask about what each other does for a living.

    When people find out I am a teacher, they nearly always follow up with, “what do you teach?”

    My usual answer: “Students.”

    I believe in developing the whole person. Granted, I usually do that on a backdrop of mathematics topics, but the student is more my focus than the math.

  5. L. Larmand

    Thank you for this post! I love this analogy. And I want to be the third teacher always. But I find report card writing puts me mostly in the shoes of teacher one. Have I taught my students to add three digit numbers? Can my students write sentences with correct punctuation. Both “small picture” outcomes. Rethinking how we assess students and report back to parents will go a long way in helping us focus on the Big Vision of creating independent, lifelong learners.

  6. Meredith Johnson

    This morning I was beginning to read “Coherence – The Right Drivers in Action for Schools, Districts, and Systems” by Fullan, 2016. pg. 2 discusses a school district that was moving the work forward and had many visitors. The visitors were amazed when they asked various people about the main priorities, strategies in action, progress, next steps …that they got consistent and specific similar answers across schools and levels. They referred to it as “talk the walk. ” When reading, it reminded me of the third stone cutter or teacher. They become “mutually influential” as all members explain the same ideas and actions and become more and more like the third example. Thanks for sharing about the importance of A Bigger Vision!

  7. I love the parallel stories and the connections we can make as educators! Are we happy in our work? Is everyone clear on our purpose? Is the vision held and lived by one or by all? I look forward to reading more of the leadership stories on the site you shared- thanks!

  8. Shelley

    I cannot agree more that it is essential that we see the “big picture” of what we are doing in education, in our communities, our schools and our classrooms. I have been known to ask teachers to reflect on the question, “What is it that you want your students to know and be able to do when they walk out of your classroom? What kind of person do you want to influence them to be?” Those are BIG questions. It is easy to teach specific outcomes, it becomes more complex when you think of the bigger picture. Truly inspired teachers do this every day! In my current role I am spending a lot of time developing a vision for a new school. It is so important to me to collaborate with others in an effort to develop a vision that will meet the needs of our students and families. The vision needs to be one that teachers can rely on to guide them in their daily journey with students and to help them reflect on what worked well and what needs to be changed to reach our ideal “cathedral.”

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