Unwrapping the cellophane

In yesterday’s post about oral assessment, I commented that “…the very act of talking with our students helps us to see them. To really see them as people, as learners, as individuals in our classrooms.

On Friday, Marc Prensky talked about the notion of ‘cellophane kids‘, a term used to describe how teachers look through students to their subject matter, end of year exams, etc.. instead of seeing students for who they are – people with passion and hope for the future.

It reminded me of a post I wrote in August of 2008 called What’s my lesson? (look right through me.) It was inspired by this lyric:

hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson? look right through me, look right through me. Roland Orzabal/Tears for Fears, 1982

In it, I wrote:

In my last post (By Any Means Human) we reflected on the human qualities teachers – we – bring to our classrooms. One of the strongest just might be the ability to both do and not do what this line is asking.

G-d forbid, as teachers, we look through our students. Imagine being invisible? I’ve known how that feels. Like I don’t exist. That’s the part not to do.

At the same time, when a student arrives in my classroom she is implicitly asking for her lesson.

She is asking me for her lesson.

And if I look right through her, past her language, her colour, her attitude wrought from years of learned helplessness and strong wall making and straight to her, I just may be able to find the lesson she’s asking for.


That’s the part to do. That maybe I wrote about? That is where my heart leads me.

I still believe that.

By talking with our students – and oral assessment is a way of talking with students for a specific purpose but certainly not the only way! – we are unwrapping the cellophane. We are fulfilling what I believe to be our human responsibility – taking care of each other. As teachers we can take care of each other by helping each other discover our passion, our hope for the future that exists in us all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *