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Awaken the Learner

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Create a compassionate, caring school environment. Examine how a change in teaching philosophy can help awaken the passion for learning in students. Learn how to promote kindness in the classroom, and understand the power of stories in engaging students. Explore research-based strategies to enhance teacher-student and peer relationships. Discover how to inspire purpose, reach students’ hearts, and cultivate student security, identity, and belonging.

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Part I: Reaching the Heart, Head, and Hands

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I love you, Rachel, even though I never met you. Your story inspired me to share it all around the world.

—Rebecca

At 11:52 a.m. on April 20, 1999, I received a phone call that forever changed the course of my life. It was a call from my fiancée, Sandy. I will never forget her words: “There has been a shooting at Columbine.”

My precious daughter Rachel Joy Scott was the first student killed in the worst high school shooting in U.S. history. Thirteen innocent victims were murdered and others maimed for life. Unfortunately, more school shootings would follow, including the 2012 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

I have found incredible purpose and meaning in life by sharing my daughter’s story and seeing the positive impact it has on the lives of others. I would trade it all to have her back, but I can’t do that. Instead, let me share Rachel’s story with you.

Rachel’s Story

Rachel was the middle child with two older sisters and two younger brothers. She loved life and people. A junior at Columbine High School when she was killed, Rachel enjoyed drama and performed the lead role in the spring play. She was energized by being around people and could light up a room with her presence (see figure 1.1).

 

Part II: Instructing and Awakening the Learner

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The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

—Khalil Gibran

In chapters 1–7, Darrell has provided a case for an approach to schooling that awakens the learner. It is a compelling case, as articulated by Darrell, with equal measures of heart and mind. Whether one looks at the historical evidence provided by Friedrich Froebel, Johann Pestalozzi, and Elizabeth Peabody, the current evidence provided by educators like Erin Gruwell, or the continuing evidence of fundamental changes in students, teachers, and administrators generated by Rachel’s Challenge, the conclusion is inevitable—schools have the potential and power to awaken the learner. In this chapter and those following, I will place the message of Darrell’s preceding chapters in the context of current research and theory in psychology, teaching, and schooling. Virtually all of Darrell’s recommendations are supported by that research and theory.

 



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