Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Unlearning Cont.

Following on the Unlearning post I came across this list of 10 Things Teachers Should Unlearn on the What Ed Said blog.  I wholeheartedly agree with most of the items on this list but am perplexed by the third one.

3.  Teachers are responsible for learning.

I think I understand what this question is getting at, that students should be responsible for their own learning. Yes, students are more apt to engage and learn when they take ownership but I think teachers need to be there as coaches, mentors and learners in their own right.

Changes like these will not come easily for most.  We are hard wired to impart knowledge, to be the expert.  That's why most of us became teachers.  Letting students take over the learning requires that we take a big step back while still keeping our hands on the helm.  Thinking back about colleagues whose students have thrived and been universally successful, two individuals stand out above the rest.  Both taught in an atmosphere of controlled chaos.  The walls of their classrooms were covered with student made work and displays.  Walking into their classrooms was like entering a workshop where creativity and individualism reigned.  Yes, they covered the curriculum but they did so by taking many little side roads that interested them and their students along the way.

The blog post is worthwhile reading as the author feels the ideas are outdated and asks readers to comment, update or revise the list.


whatedsaid said...

More than anything, my aim was to provoke some thinking... and I did! :) You're right, the point I was making was that students need to be responsible for their learning and I totally agree that teachers need to be there as guides and coaches. I just don't think we need to be in total control of everything any more. I love the idea of the teacher being part of the learning community, alongside the students.

MrsE said...

@whatedsaid: your comment made me think of how teaching and parenting might be similar. Recently my grown daughter asked me for advice and said, "I don't want your usual 'I trust you to make the right decision' reply. I want a real answer, mothER." This made me laugh out loud because that's exactly how I often answered her. She had to make a decision and live with her choices. For the most part it worked out fine and there were no serious oops!
So if teachers can say, "I don't know all the answers. I trust you to be able to figure it out for yourself, AND I'm here to help you find help if you can't" then we're really helping them to become learners not just vessels that hold information for a period of time.