So, as I’ve mentioned in the past, my swimming teachers are teenagers. They don’t have mortgages, insurance premiums to pay, and haven’t known the experience of walking in public with a screaming baby harnessed on one’s torso, but they get a decent hourly wage from my municipality to teach my lead-weight-of-a-chunk-of-flesh to do the whip kick. None of them have much formal training in teaching. Weird thing is, many of them are fantastic. And, by fantastic, I mean in relative terms to most adults you know.
Just the other night I was being coached by an 18yo and was blown away by the precise, timely feedback he was giving me. He was also so great at thinking aloud and modelling how and why he uses particular movements in the pool. All of us in the class, ranging from 40-60 years of age, were impressed almost to the point of awe.
I’m trying my best to wrap my head around this. How could youth be so good at teaching people like me? I mean, I’ve dedicated most of my adulthood to professional growth in this area, and they’re presumably spending all their time Snapchatting and eating Doritos? (I joke, I joke!)
Then the other day my beautiful wife Janet and I were watching the CBC and learned about this awesome 18yo from Victoria, BC who keeps inventing “crazy” and useful products. There’s also this ridiculous 13yo from Toronto who may be changing how the developing world creates their own clean, safe water.
We see these stories everywhere. My own 13yo daughter (above), I’m proud to say, could easily show many grown ups a thing or two about not only some of the skills she possesses, but also her mindset for life.
This is kind of a round about way of me asking questions I’ve wondered for a long time…
Should our schools and systems leverage their own students as actual teachers of the adults? If education in this age demands a learner’s stance from all stakeholders, then when will we actually formally (not just through poetic observation) learn from the students? Are they not capable? Are there not certain things they are inherently better at teaching us than our middle aged peers and colleagues?