“We both taught each other. And that’s how it should be.”
During a kindergarten lesson on the common melody of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” and “The Alphabet Song,” one girl offered to teach her class the actions for “Twinkle, Twinkle” when she discovered, much to her shock, that I did not know them. She stood in front of the class and everyone followed her lead as we sang.
As she was lining up to leave music class, she pointed out to me that if it weren’t for her being in my class, I wouldn’t know the actions to that song. In fact, she had taught me–her teacher–something! I felt like I was observing someone having an epiphany (not an uncommon observance in a kindergarten classroom), as she pondered this, and then stated very decisively, “We both taught each other. And that’s how it should be.”
This was a profound moment for both of us. Of course, I learn from my students every day that I spend with them and I love that about teaching. But to hear it stated as a hard fact by one of my youngest students was a striking reminder to not only notice that teaching is a two-way street, but to maintain a collaborative learning environment in my classroom. This kindergartner was empowered when she experienced the worth of her knowledge by sharing it with others. With the focus on standardized tests in schools, I fear that kids are being taught to value the score rather than the usefulness of their knowledge. Music can be a vehicle for teaching so many non-cognitive skills and is a break for students from one-way, test-focused learning. I learned from this kindergartner an activity to help engage future kindergarten classes, but more importantly, I learned the importance of teaching my students the inherent, unscorable value of their own knowledge.