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Don’t be a dog person


I’m a dog person. I can get along with cats if I have to but all my life, it’s been dogs. My first dog, shared with my five brothers and sisters, was a German Shepard / Collie mix named Tuffy. And just so you know, Tuffy was the best dog ever.

Several years ago, my wife and I adopted a rescue dog that we named Rowdie. Rowdie’s a Jack Russell who is currently running a very close second to best dog ever. Definitely way better than a cat.

Cats ignore you, are snooty, and absolutely refuse to roll over and play dead.

But I said something like that once to a person who owned cats and was quickly put in my place:

People who own dogs have controlling personalities. They order their dogs around, make them do tricks, and always have to be in charge of their dogs. There’s no room for anything except what the owner wants.

Cat people understand that owning a cat requires flexibility and mutual respect between themselves and the cat. As long as the cat behaves within some pretty broad limits, everything is good.

I’ll admit it. Partially correct. There is a bit of controlling behavior in my relationship with Rowdie.

At this point, you’ve gotta be asking yourself:

What does this have to do with teaching Social Studies?

During lunch on Tuesday, I was chatting with Mindy from Olathe schools and we somehow starting talking about how teacher personalities share similarities with pet owner personalities.

This is the point in this post where the possibility exists that I might upset some pet owners. But the conversation with Mindy was interesting enough that I did some more thinking on how different types of people teach social studies. So if you own a dog, I’m not judging all dog owners. Or suggesting that all dog owners are bad teachers. Or that cat owners are great ones. Or that all social studies teachers own cats. Or dogs. Or that someone who owns a fish is most likely an administrator.

But if the cat owner quoted above is correct is suggesting that perhaps there are personality differences between cat and dog owners, perhaps we can use that stereotypical generalization to think about effective teaching styles.

Perhaps social studies teachers who think and act like cat owners may be more effective in the classroom. Flexible. Focused on encouraging historical thinking skills and literacy. Supports the integration of appropriate technology. Uses a wide variety of resources and evidence. Measures learning in ways that find a balance between content and process.

So based on a quick quick visual, are you a cat or dog lover?

catdog pages as jpg

And for the longest time as a young teacher, I taught from the dog side of the visual. I assigned textbook readings, lectured for days, graded everything, tested with tons of multiple choice, rarely used problems as anchor activities, controlled access to evidence, and rarely shared student products.

But change is possible. I’m still not a fan of cats. But I love the idea of the cat owner personality.

What would you change on the graphic?

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