Devaluation of Teaching and Learning

An excellent editorial on the value of teaching.

popenici

©popenici2013

In the current debate about the future of education a radical position is increasingly popular: teachers and teaching are obsolete, a part of a decrepit model of education. According to this, the teacher organising learning – and any representative of what George Steiner called “the aristocracy of intellect” – is an old model that must be replaced with a revolutionary no-teacher model. It is implied – or directly expressed – that only students have the inherent power to organise learning and teaching better. “Youth” must be left to lead the revolution where learning and teaching are ‘flipped’ to fall in their hands. Technological innovation is always used – along with other valid arguments leading to same wrong conclusions – as a clear body of proof that teachers are not needed anymore and students, from primary school to higher education, need just to be left alone to organise their own…

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4 thoughts on “Devaluation of Teaching and Learning

  1. cfee | chris thinnes (@CurtisCFEE)

    Thank you for sharing this Jen! I found @Popenici’s essay deeply provocative, probing, and unsettling — and an important set of ideas to consider. After sitting with it, though, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it was fairly ascribing to advocates of more student-centered learning the goal of assigning teachers “a marginal role, as employees in charge with students’ safety, comfort and entertainment.” I also wondered on what basis he determines that graduates of student-centered schools will acquire “very little knowledge and skills, but high expectations built in years of comfortable play mislabeled as education.”

    I don’t think credible advocates of more student-centered learning are arguing for the abdication of adult educators’ responsibility for their students’ learning, or the repudiation so much as the redefinition of their influence: they seem, instead, to be honoring (per @Popenici) “the student role in education as individuals in search of exploratory journeys where learning experiences are capable to push their limits out of the comfort zones for knowledge, new ideas and discovery” — and identifying that student voice, choice, and authentic engagement are more likely to draw students out of their ‘comfort zones’ than ‘traditionally’ models of the teacher as fillers of an empty pail. ‘Vigor’ instead of ‘rigor,’ and all that . . .

    I share @Popenici’s contempt for programs and products that idealize the use of ‘personalized’ technological platforms and reduce the role of teachers to managers of records and workstation attendants. But I don’t think that it’s the advocates of more authentic or engaging student learning who ask us to swallow that bitter pill.

    Reply
    1. Jennifer Carey Post author

      Thank you Chris! These are some especially poignant thoughts. I appreciate that there is no silver bullet in this issue. Allocating resources, adopting new technology, supporting innovative educators, directing children… we all have the same objectives, how to go about that on such a large scale is so problematic.

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Paris Review – The Art of Criticism No. 2, George Steiner « How my heart speaks

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