Mirrors or Windows

“The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows” Sydney J. Harris

This was the quote on today’s Sacred Writing Time slide.  This quote makes me think. When I was in school, I think education felt that its job was to fill the file cabinets in our brains with information.  Not to give us a window to the world.  Are we still trying to just fill the filing cabinets with information or are we trying to open the windows? What do the students really want?  I know what the current research says, but sometimes in my classroom, I see different results.  Can we really have the best of both worlds or does it need to be one or the other?


4 thoughts on “Mirrors or Windows

  1. I think about this metaphor all the time–I write children’s books and we authors are always talking about what’s best–mirrors or windows–in children’s books. The answer, I think, is both. And it depends. Kids need both. They need to feel good about who they are and what they’re doing and facing and feeling at that exact moment, but they also need windows into the possibility of other selves, worlds, situations. I know as a wife and woman and mother, I need both, too–the books that can give me both are definitely my all-time favorites. Loved this thought-provoking little slice!


  2. How thought provoking! I think it always probably starts as mirrors, right? Because our students are inherently pretty egotistical and because they NEED to understand themselves. Maybe it becomes a window eventually? Or at least a mirror in which they can see a window? I’m going to be thinking about this for a while–thanks for sharing!


  3. I have worked super hard to open the windows in my classroom rather than just fill a file cabinet. Recently, I have been getting lots of push-back from parents and it is disheartening. They really don’t know what they are saying and think they want school to be the same way it was for them. Recently I got the request to stop doing “that fancy stuff and just send home some normal paperwork for homework”. Like I said, disheartening–but I’m not willing to give up attempting to open those window, yet.


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