April (2014)
February (2014)
January (2014)
December (2013)
November (2013)
Valuing Work
October (2013)
September (2013)
May (2013)
April (2013)
March (2013)
February (2013)
January (2013)
November (2012)
Learning Styles
October (2012)
Nature vs. Nurture
One only needs to live in community with other humans for a short period of time to understand just how complex our species truly is. Personalities, talents, quirks, tendencies, and passions describe who we are and it is the mixture of all these individuals that define a living community. While we, as adults, continue to be shaped by experiences, the adolescents with which we work are living through prime years of influence while studying at Proctor.

A recent conversation with Heide Johnson, who is currently teaching a science elective on evolution, described one of the main goals of her class as looking at how various species are exposed to experiences that eventually shape their very being, as beneficial traits are gradually adopted by the species and those traits which are detrimental to survival are abandoned.

While this process of evolutionary adaptation is truly amazing, it is a longterm process that is observed over time and, by its nature, evaluated in retrospect after changes have occured. A recent visit to Adam Jones' Psychology class revealed a different approach to studying adaptation over time as his class investigates the question: does nature or nurture play a larger role in defining an individual?

Psychologists have long debated whether nature (genetic makeup) or nurture (life experiences) play a larger role in shaping who we are. For students in Psychology, this process of self-reflection and observation of others uses the various lenses of socioeconomic standing, access to education, and family structure to ask the question: What are your experiences in life and how have you been nurtured to be who you are.

Students are currently working on video biographies of individuals who have had an impact on their lives, focusing intently on what experiences have shaped, and continue to shape, who they are. This process is a valuable one for students as they seek to develop a lens through which they can effectively ask nature versus nurture questions about themselves and those around them.

We must ask the same questions of ourselves, as teachers, in order to truly appreciate why we are the way we are, and why we do what we do. Were we born with the gift of impacting adolescents through education, or were we shaped by our own past experiences? 

As the Psychology class has learned this term, "Whatever you were given, nurture deepens, works against or strengthens those abilities." Perhaps each of Proctor's teachers have innate abilities in education, but at one point or another, experiences as a student ignited the passion to teach, and to engage wholeheartedly in the occupation of nurturing adolescents through an educational journey. 

More importantly, we recognize that we not only want to teach, but we want to teach at a school that values relationships and experiential learning, that understands the role academic support plays in helping all students engage in rigorous academic pursuits, that strives to make the world more sustainable, and that provides us the freedom to recreate those same types of transformational learning experiences that shaped us as lifelong learners long ago!  

We know that plant and animal species have evolved over time based on conditions and experiences to which they are exposed.
While we will not see the adaptation of our gene pool (as Evolution students are studying this term) during our lifetime, we certainly notice the impacts of experiences (nurture) on our lives.
Teachers at Proctor thrive while creating experiences that will impact, or nurture, a love of learning in students.
This love of learning develops through strong relationships, being challenged academically, experiential programs, hands-on-learning, discovering new passions, and countless other ways!