We Need Teachers, Not Facilitators!

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I recently heard that a conference speaker told his audience, “We need fewer teachers and more facilitators.” My first reaction was, “1986 called and would like its keynote back.” My second thought was that the speaker is dead wrong!

The use of terms like “facilitator” always makes me queasy. The desire to rebrand teaching as facilitation results more from the low self-esteem of educators than either public opinion or a serious commitment to pedagogical progress. Regardless of the speaker’s intent, “teacher as facilitator” is a cliché that makes teaching sound more mechanistic and impersonal, not more. Modern medicine evolves and changes constantly, yet we still call its practitioners doctors. The invention of Viagra didn’t cause the public to make erector appointments. They call their doctor.

If one truly wants to improve the educational experience of children, then we need more teachers and fewer facilitators.

A popular parlor game among educators is debating the precise moment when “education went bad.” (Whether or not you believe there is a crisis in education.) A Nation at Risk, No Child Left Behind, Race-to-the-Top are often cited as the tipping point in the decline of K-12 education. I don’t blame a specific piece of legislation or blue-ribbon report entirely for the challenges faced by educators on a daily basis.

In my humble opinion, classrooms became less productive contexts for learning when teacher education became more concerned with training facilitators than creating teachers. The die was cast when professional educators accepted such dystopian rebranding as “facilitator.”

While earning my BA in teacher education during the early to mid-1980s, I was in the last class required to learn to play the piano a little bit, teach physical education, make puppets out of pop-tart boxes, create math manipulatives, design science experiments and setup a convivial classroom environment. When teaching was viewed as equal parts art and science, teacher education reflected that balance.

Around 1985, legislatures across the nation concluded that “teaching ain’t nuthin’” and changed credentialing requirements to ensure that teachers studied something “real” instead of education courses. Today, Teach-for-America spends five weeks preparing college grads to be teachers – less than half the time required for Marine Corps basic training and exponentially less time than I spent becoming an elementary school teacher. Educators know well that when elementary teacher preparation is less child-centered, secondary education gets even worse.

Today, new teachers truly are facilitators. They are “trained” to manage classrooms and deliver the curriculum handed to them. That’s about it.

This is great news for policy-makers and ideologues. Teachers are more compliant and less questioning than ever before. Flip the classroom? Sure! Tie teacher pay to standardized testing? Why not? Abandon labor protections secured by unionization? You betcha!

I remember being taught explicitly how to justify playing Scrabble for days or putting on a puppet show as educationally efficacious. This wasn’t just a “cover-your-ass in the plan book strategy,” but a way of understanding and articulating what your students were learning. The deafening calls for “accountability” are partially the result of teachers incapable of making learning visible. The less teachers have to think about their students’ thinking, the less thinking they do generally. Teaching needs to be thoughtful.

I have been stunned to observe the complete and utter return to whole class instruction in nearly every school I visit (public, private, rich, poor, urban, suburban and rural) everywhere in the world. New teachers have little or no experience with classroom centers, independent work, student projects and the sorts of agency that allow children to enjoy the “flow” experiences that build upon their obsessions and lead to understanding. Even when teachers are not lecturing from bell-to-bell, the classroom agenda is top-down and leaves little chance for serendipity or student initiative.

The most generous rationale for the Common Core Content Standards is that teachers lack a personal compass for what students should know and do. Teachers expert in inspiring long-term, personally meaningful and interdisciplinary projects or thematic instruction regularly exceed the standards, but that realization is lost on facilitators.

Great teachers know their students in deeper ways than any data can provide. They ask kids about their weekends. They chat about what kids are reading and console them when their hamster dies. Teachers spend thirty minutes per month in Toys R Us on the lookout for cool stuff to use in the classroom and as a means to learning about the culture of the children they serve. They learn continuously for themselves and their students. Teachers share their love of reading and are patrons of the arts. They are active citizens and engage students in current events. Outstanding teachers are not afraid to appear silly or create a whimsical classroom environment. They play in the snow with kindergarteners like Maria Knee.

The best thing we can do for children is to have them spend as much time with possible with interesting adults. So, great teachers need to be passionate, competent and interesting humans beyond the scope and sequence of the curriculum.

If we truly wish to make the world a better place for children, then we need many more teachers and a lot fewer facilitators!

Comments

38 Responses to “We Need Teachers, Not Facilitators!”
  1. Dennis Dill says:

    Well said. Kids do not respond to script readers. They respond to a real person standing in front of them thatbtheynfeelmactuallybcares about them. One that will be a part of their learning process not just as a teacher, but in a sense, a mentor. A real person that understands how the individual learns and how to motivate the individual. We need to be free to create different learning activities for our kids and not be afraid to listen to what our kids want. Some of my best activities have come from conversations I had with students who felt comfortable enough with me to recommend an activity or to articulate why the present learning activity is not very good. It is amazing what can happen when students feel they are part of the learning process…something that is lost when a script is handed to a teacher.

  2. Helen Otway says:

    Thanks Gary. I enjoy the way you can break down the jargon to the real stuff of teaching and learning. I agree that the flow of learning has been lost over time and that scripts have appeared. And it is widespread. This makes it tricky to teach, lead and innovate … but not impossible. We need to keep challenging the broad sweeping direction that is happening with education and remain true to our kids.
    Thanks again. Happy New Year.

  3. I agree with much of this Gary, but I still have an issue with the whole school paradigm in that I’m not convinced that learning from a teacher is always best. Sometimes, for some people, perhaps. Always, for all people, no.

    I’m more inclined to believe that we need a move toward what Big Picture Learning calls advisors http://www.bigpicture.org/advisorgeneral-staff-interest-form/ or what some free schools call coaches.http://manhattanfreeschool.org/agile_learning_centers

    However, after reading Illich recently, I also question the dynamic that is set up when we name one individual the “teacher,” especially in a situation when the person with that role nor the subject was chosen by the student.

    What also comes to mind is that many students feel that what teachers are pushing is outdated and irrelevant yet they have no say in the matter.

    So, upon reflection, you’ve convinced me that facilitator is not all it’s cracked up to be, but I’m not convinced a teacher is what we want for students all the time either.

  4. Betteanne Camagna says:

    We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.
    Galileo Galilei

  5. Betteanne Camagna says:

    NO TEACHERS!!! we need more Partners!

  6. Chad Kafka says:

    While I do agree with many of the fundamentals you lay out in this post, I don’t think the issue is with the the word ‘teacher’ vs ‘facilitator’ as much as I think the real issue has to do with the perception of ‘teacher’ vs. ‘facilitator.’ I think the feeling one way or the other depends on how a school district or building defines what facilitator is. This shift toward referring to a ‘teacher as facilitator’ has come about because we don’t/can’t think of the teacher as the ‘master of all knowledge’ anymore. We need the teacher to still teach and do all of the things you stated in your post to make personal connections with students, but more importantly, we need teachers to ‘facilitate’ or ‘guide’ students on their learning path more than teachers have done in the past.

    We need teachers to be flexible with the different types of tools available for students to learn while on this path. I think this goes against the connotation of what a ‘teacher’ is for many where they think that the teacher has to control everything that goes on in the classroom or that everything has to go through the teacher.

    I see this as two different paradigms:
    1) I view the FACILITATOR in a classroom as central ‘hub’ in a ring of learning that’s occurring around the classroom. The teacher is the one facilitating/guiding/teaching where needed but not all learning HAS to go through the teacher. This would be a very non-linear setup when trying to visualize it. This would also allow students to work at their own pace.

    2) I view the TEACHER way of teaching where the teacher was the gatekeeper of all knowledge and the class would all HAVE to go through teacher to acquire the same learning at the same time. This would be more of a one-way linear direction for the class to take. Drawback here is the teacher as gatekeeper keeps all the kids huddled together in class in the same place at the same time and the ‘teacher’ in this case doesn’t allow for students to move at their own pace.

    I don’t disagree with the traits that you say are important in a teacher and I don’t think those things have to be exclusive to ‘teacher’ or ‘facilitator.’ I don’t think ‘teacher as facilitator’ means the students aren’t cared for or getting that personal attention; in fact I think the better ‘facilitator’ in the room is making sure to meet all students’ needs better than a ‘teacher’ would. I think we just need more flexible educators that can juggle many balls in the air at once — no matter the name we choose to call them.

    Good post…this really got me thinking.

  7. Mark Dunk says:

    For years, we have heard “Be the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage,” and “Less is more!” Well, I’ve always maintained that “Less is less,” and nothing takes the place of a good teacher in the classroom. Of course, that teacher needs students who are willing to learn, parents who treat teachers as partners, and administrators who are teaching advocates. Modern public education is broken. It is time for radical revolution in education, not the gradual buzz-word-creep that has decimated the profession during the last 30 years.

  8. Amy Milstein says:

    Gary, what I was thinking while reading your post was that the type of teaching you are talking about – where you can play Scrabble for days or create puppet shows – is a lot like unschooling. As a parent of two always unschooled kids, ages 12 and 8, I sometimes tell people that I facilitate their learning. What I mean by that is I pay attention to their interests and obsessions and then provide them the tools to follow those interests and obsessions to whatever degree they choose.

    You are correct that kids do better in an environment more attuned to their needs and desires, rather than forcing them into a ‘top down’ learning situation, in which very little learning actually occurs.

    If all teachers were given the freedom to do as you suggest, I have no doubt that things would be better. That said, compulsory schooling will always be limited by the fact that does not allow students to choose their path of learning (with guidance from others, of course.) By virtue of its’ structure it must be a one size fits all environment, and that will never work for everyone. No doubt we need to get away from a system that values test results over substance. Unschooling is the ultimate choice for meaningful real world learning, but until it is available to everyone, I believe teachers like you can help to give some of the power back to students within a school setting. And that’s a good place to start.

  9. Bob Collier says:

    “It is time for radical revolution in education”. ??? Do you mean radical revolution in the school system? It seems to me that a radical revolution in education has been going on for some time in the world at large. My own experience of home and self education certainly suggests to me that, rather than nothing taking the place of a good teacher in the classroom, new learning opportunities gifted to us all by the so called “digital revolution” have been taking the place of a good teacher in the classroom very nicely indeed for at least a decade.

  10. Michael says:

    Gary;

    I wish you had explained what you mean when you say “facilitate.” I thought I was with you until you said,
    “New teachers have little or no experience with classroom centers, independent work, student projects and the sorts of agency that allow children to enjoy the “flow” experiences that build upon their obsessions and lead to understanding. Even when teachers are not lecturing from bell-to-bell, the classroom agenda is top-down and leaves little chance for serendipity or student initiative.”
    Classroom centers, projects,and flow experiences are exactly the type of activity that a “facilitator” teacher would do. I was taught that a facilitator teaches the basics, challenges students to apply those basics, and then stands back and facilitates creative endeavors to come to deeper understanding. In science, we also refer to this as “inquiry-based” instruction.

    This made me realize that we probably all have a different definition of “facilitator” in our minds that colors our opinions on the matter. I’d love to hear your definition.

    Mike,
    http://motivationalschoolleadership.blogspot.com

  11. Chris says:

    It’s just a label. Just be whatever you need to be to meet the needs of children you care about. If kids had an actual choice in the matter, the right amount of teacher/partner/facilitator would emerge in just the right circumstance.

  12. Chris Lehmann says:

    Chris – with all due respect, it’s not “just” a term, because words matter. And I think that’s behind much of Gary’s argument. The term “teacher” is one of respect, that can and should be imbued with all of the progressive, thoughtful history of the term, and it should be one of respect. We desperately need more teachers and fewer facilitators.

  13. I remember when the term facilitator came along. I was a new teacher. Looking back now, the environment was less standards based and more site based. I never took it as a replacement term, but rather an additional lens through which to view and magnify my teaching. Before NCLB with its standards on steroids, teaching to the test packaged curricula, the moniker had a liberating effect. For me it still does: Though lawmakers and officials may only want me to facilitate curriculum delivery, I facilitate discussion and writing. I try to facilitate creativity, critical thinking, character and citizenship. I hope I facilitate caring and diversity.

    In its most, at once, innocuous as well as powerful sense, caring is the motive behind “facilitating” if my aim is to make it easier (facil) for my students to become engaged with their learning and each other. I want to remove obstacles (including me) that might interfere with discovery. Ultimately, I hope to make it possible for them to get along and learn without me. Donning the “facilitator” label shifts the focus to allow this freedom, in turn liberating students from just what the “teacher” says. Far from being easy, facilitating a discussion or a project is difficult and often delicate work.

    I agree, words have power. Maybe instead of inventing ones such as “facilitator” that get co-opted and loaded with the gatekeeper and authoritative baggage anyway–further distancing us from our students and de-professionalizing our work–we should be constantly reiterating what good a good “teacher” is. I like that you did that in this post.

    Besides, I’m not too worried: In 22 years, no student has yet said, “That’s Mr. Benjamin, my facilitator.” It’s still teacher or coach to the people who I really work for. I don’t think “facilitator” will catch on much beyond our own profession’s jargon and buzz words.

  14. Sarah Thomas says:

    When I first saw your title, I was scared; my job title is Technology Facilitator. But I find myself more and more frustrated by the facilitator role as I feel like I am often dumping ground for when teachers need an extra hand rather than actually using my experience as a teacher to help innovate their teaching and create interesting learning opportunities for our kids. I really like what Chad said above, so I won’t reiterate what he said as I agree wholeheartedly. I think the title of the role is both/and. We strive to be master teachers, honing our craft-our toolboxes to meet the needs of our kids and we must facilitate our kids learning experiences so that we are not always the master, but rather the sign post sending them in the right direction. I think in order to be a facilitator of learning you must first be a master educator.

  15. Bob Collier says:

    “I think in order to be a facilitator of learning you must first be a master educator.” My own experience suggests to me that in order to be a facilitator of learning you must first remember to pay the electricity bill. Do you not have computers in your school?

  16. I found your post confusing for two reasons.

    When I think about the difference between “teacher” and “facilitator” I think about it this way:

    Teacher: content delivery expert, creating assignments that allows students to demonstrate understanding of that content. More about being the center of the classroom and creator of content.

    Facilitator: creates an environment where students can discover and direct their learning. Provides multiple opportunities for mastery of the content, teaching/re-teaching where necessary. More about the environment and getting out of the way once students are started down the path to learning.

    By that definition, the program you went through seems much more on the facilitator end. You create learning experiences, not just deliver content.

    But the bigger, more confusing issue is the disdain you show for many teachers who are new to the profession. This is my 9th year, and I went through credential school in the middle of my 2nd year teaching. In my program, I wasn’t taught to be “compliant” or “less questioning” – in fact, I was given a really deep toolkit that included whole-class strategies, small group strategies, and 1:1 strategies. I was taught to never settle for “good enough” – to keep pushing to do the best I could for my students.

    So when I felt like I wasn’t doing a good job serving my students, I went looking for answers. I found flipped learning – and I was very, very skeptical. I didn’t think it would work with my students. But it was one of those ideas that just kept playing in the back of my mind, and I couldn’t get rid of it. So I tried it.

    And in one semester, my 17 D’s and F’s became zero. Every student passed the final test with a 70% or higher. Every students completed the final essay to standard (or above). I had a student who had never passed a class in middle school or high school (as a 2nd semester 10th grader) and who got a B in my class. This year, at a different school with very different demographics, I have 155 students with zero F’s and only a small handful of D’s.

    And you know what didn’t change? The care that I had for students. The understanding of what my students needed. Those two things were always there.

    I can see their improvement – not just in content skills, but in passion and engagement in education. And the most important thing that has happened was that I stopped being a content delivery machine and became a facilitator of student learning. I do teach, and I do deliver content, but my primary job is helping students discover their ability and passion and build their skills in my content area.

    That decision to flip my class wasn’t a result of anyone telling me to do it. It was ME, searching for answers and finding one of the most amazing professional communities I’ve ever seen. The flipped learning community has been transformational for me and for my classroom. And again, it’s not because I’m compliant. It’s because I’m collaborative – which was a key value from my credential program.

    Another key value was knowing students and meeting their needs. To meet my students’ needs, I flipped my classroom. It’s given me more time to learn about them as individuals as well as academically.

    I’m one of many in the flipped community who has seen flipped learning move my class far more to the student-centred approach and has given me some of the most amazing, innovative, smart and collaborative people to help me continue to improve. Most teachers are incredibly isolated, and that certainly doesn’t benefit students. Classrooms like the ones my colleagues and I run are solely for the benefit of students. We may not be perfect, but we’re working hard to make our classrooms as student-centred as possible.

    All that being said, I appreciate your post for making me think. It’s important to engage with people with whom you disagree – it helps us all get better. I also hope that you hear the intention here – not to be rude or harsh, but just to present a different side. I value open, honest debate and that’s the spirit in which this comment was written.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

  17. Rob says:

    Gary is right about the lack of small group learning in the classroom. Many teachers say the management is too difficult. Was it always difficult to manage?

  18. Gina O. says:

    This entry makes some great points, but we have to be careful with blanket statements. I was part of first cohort of teachers under the newly minted NCLB laws. My teacher preparation program emphasized math manipulatives and conceptual understanding, special education, supporting English Learners, and gifted education. I also was instructed in various grouping strategies and differentiated instruction. My program asked me design interdisciplinary units and think about the whole child.

    My first years in the classroom were a struggle not because I had not been taught how to do these things, but rather the constant emotional and procedural demands of the classroom often left me wondering what is the right thing to do by this child, times 32 of couse, since that was my class size. The demands of a large urban school district, and all that entails, did not help. The pressures, real and perceived, were always there.

    In those early years, it was difficult to separate my personal life from my professional life, and I felt like I was never catching up. Never doing enough. It wasn’t until I had time to grow up a little (I started teaching at 23), build some confidence that every decision wasn’t life or death, and develop realistic expectations about what I could and should do for my students that I became a good teacher.

    Nothing in this this life is black and white. If you are willing to listen. There are thousands of teachers out there who are just trying to do the right thing. Many of them have their hands tied, not by the teacher preparation world’s failure to make them “teachers”, but rather by the high-stakes environment that prevents them from taking the time to give and be all that the students need them to be.

  19. admin says:

    I appreciate so many of you taking the time to read and comment on this article on New Year’s eve. #sad :-)

    Please accept my apologies for not responding individually to specific comments. My blog design is primitive (but works).

    Now, a few thoughts…

    1) Call yourself anything you want. I’m a teacher, not a facilitator. Euphemisms and clichés only retard progress – Take a look at http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2824

    2) Not every article about education is an opportunity to give a speech on the superiority of homeschooling/unschooling/deschooling. This article was explicitly about school teaching.

    3) OF course this article is about semantics. I am deliberately confronting a noxious view of teaching shaped by language. I am not surprised that some people will wrestle the “facilitator” term to the ground in the hopes of wringing out some virtue of a term imposed by our oppressors. As Chris Lehmann rightly points out, words matter.

    4) I’m not really generalizing. I flew 175,000 miles in 2012 and spent a lot of time in a lot of classrooms around the world. There is indeed a widespread return to whole class instruction. The calls for “differentiated instruction” and the Common Core Content Standards are evidence of this shift. My hypothesis about the style and quality of teacher preparation is certainly subject for debate, but anecdotal examples of a good experience here or there doesn’t refute my thesis.

  20. Bob Collier says:

    “2) Not every article about education is an opportunity to give a speech on the superiority of homeschooling/unschooling/deschooling. This article was explicitly about school teaching.”

    Perhaps it would be even more explicit if you stopped using the word ‘education’ when you mean ‘schooling’? For example, “A popular parlor game among educators is debating the precise moment when “education went bad.” (Whether or not you believe there is a crisis in education.) ”

    There’s no crisis in “education” where I am. It’s thriving.

  21. Greg says:

    Students know them as teachers, not facilitators. The best teacher knows the right time to instruct, guide, facilitate, question, coach. They also know when and how to best assess, whether it be formative or summative; or whether it is Assessmest, for, of, or as learning. They understand the need for effective and regular feedback.
    There is far greater depth and skill to teaching that what there is to facilitating, as long as the teacher is focused on the student.

  22. Gary writes: OF course this article is about semantics. I am deliberately confronting a noxious view of teaching shaped by language.
    This conjured up the OK Corral and the good guys vs. the bad guys image for me.I just realized I titled my Educon conversation “Yearners vs. Schoolers” in that spirit and yet Seymour Papert in the Children’s Machine (from which I took my title) titled his chapter Yearners AND Schoolers which is really what it should be. The semantics comes out of conflict. Papert definitely a yearner also saw value in what schoolers had/have in mind. The term facilitator is a schooler’s invention, but that doesn’t mean that a faciliator is not a teacher. It’s something that all teachers need to be able to do. But its not who they are. The testing/core curriculum fanatics are mostly to blame for the wholesale return to direct instruction.

  23. Shamblesguru says:

    Garry

    Why are so many education questions asked that are so pedantic .. I bet there are some on the agenda of everyone’s first staff meeting of 2013.

    These roles (teacher/facvilitator) aren’t mutually exclusive … life is a kaleidoscopic … and life is a precious learning experience … choose the colours that are needed for just the moment in time.

    .. and why knock 1986 … there were some brilliant teachers and facilitators around then also (and some not so brilliant) …. just as there are now … didn’t know age discrimination was allowed in the USA?

    Best wishes for 2013
    now just sing along to
    http://youtu.be/hZyd1s_w6AI

    Have fun ….

  24. Sarah Thomas says:

    @Greg-you have said what I was thinking but didn’t clearly articulate. Thank you.

    @Bob Collier-I’m so glad things are well for you down under. Bravo.

  25. Wasting Time says:

    I don’t get it. At one point, you seem to dislike “playing Scrabble for days or putting on a puppet show.” But then you also seem to dislike “the complete and utter return to whole class instruction in nearly every school I visit,” while approving the use of “personally meaningful and interdisciplinary projects.”

    Connecting the dots here: isn’t it the case that teachers who try (or are told to try) to develop such projects are the ones who end up playing Scrabble or putting on puppet shows? After all, most teachers and most students are not really capable of building their own rocket ship to learn engineering, or coding a new version of Windows 8 to learn about computer coding. “Meaningful projects” in practice means, “Let’s get out the Scrabble game to play around with vocabulary words,” or maybe, “Let’s build a shoebox diorama to learn about the Civil War.”

  26. Gary Stager says:

    Dear Mr./Ms. Wasting Time,

    I am all for teacher discretion over curriculum and assessment. If a teacher wishes to play Scrabble, they should be able to justify it in an articulate educationally-relevant form.

    I’m not a big fan of shoebox dioramas or fact recitation board games either, but do think teachers are capable of learning and doing more.

    Gary

  27. Gary,

    I love the last two paragraphs of your essay. Perfect.

    what to call the adults? Teacher has been the word for hundreds of years, and so it comes with all the baggage of past use–good and bad. I liked being called “teacher”–although kindergarten teacher has a somewhat different ring–since “in a way” we were always facilitators. That word came in to discourage a lot of direct instruction/speeches directed at everyone. Occasionally useful too. But surely all was not well, Gary. before that. And in most “open classrooms” and “progressive schools” they suck with teacher. But I do recall teachers saying to me, when I recommended doing more observing, asking questions, etc–“but that wouldn’t be right since I’m being paid to teach.”

    But words have a way of shifting meanings–which can be dangerous if we don’t make clear what it is n why we are shifting. That’s why I fee your way about “rigor”. It hurts me every time I hear it–since its dictionary meaning and even ordinary use defines it as “inflexible” and “harsh”, even “cruel” and “death-like”! But I may eventually have to give up/ But in the meantime I truly don’t know what it is they men–and suspect they may mean precisely what the dictionary says. Hard.

    Meanwhile I’m borrowing those last two paragraphs. I’ll return them when I’m ready.. Happy new year, Gary.
    Deb

  28. Terry Smith says:

    I like how you discern the words facilitator and teacher – I share the difference in meaning with you. A facilitator is just as you say, maybe an activity director, maybe a technician, but not a full blown, experienced, capable, knowledgeable person who leverages his/her understanding of kids’ abilities and development in creating meaningful learning. — Terry

  29. Sheri Kinney says:

    YES!!!

  30. 30 years says:

    I disagree with everything you said. Teachers must be all things to all students.

  31. Paul Stolt says:

    Teacher vs. Facilitator is a valid discussion. But, unfortuately too many “teachers” are neither. To often classrooms are directed by “wardens” who follow the script, by the book, because the scientific-based program promises increased test scores. I personally like Andrew Miller’s designation of “learning designer” – someone with content knowledge, socio-emotional engagement, empathy and flexibility to create an environment for learners. Read his post at Andrew K. Miller: Teacher as Learning Designer

    http://huff.to/WlARdz

  32. Paul Stolt says:

    Teacher vs. Facilitator is a valid discussion. But, unfortuately too many “teachers” are neither. To often classrooms are directed by “wardens” who follow the script, by the book, because the scientific-based program promises increased test scores. I personally like Andrew Miller’s designation of “learning designer” – someone with content knowledge, socio-emotional engagement, empathy and flexibility to create an environment for learners. Read his post at Andrew K. Miller: Teacher as Learning Designer

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-k-miller/education-reform_b_2169265.html

  33. Nina Smith says:

    I absolutely LOVE the different connotations words have. And I totally disagree with your wording, but agree with the content. Please, allow me to explain: teaching and learning are two different phenomena that sometimes happen in the same physical space (classroom). In addition to time spent in classroom students learn all the time. They are still creating their worldview. And in the ideal case they will always remain curious about surrounding world, and will never stop learning (I think life-long learning has been around long enough to have an established meaning).

    Now, teaching is traditionally seen as an act where teacher imparts knowledge into students. And it doesn’t work. It has never worked. And it never will, because learning requires for the student to build her/his own understanding about the subject. But when educational systems were build to resemble factories and the cohort-based education was “invented” people thought it would be easy and effective to teach lots of students at the same time. Some people still believe in that, even though science has several times showed that learning is individual and only happens inside of the students. For sure, some surface level information can be memorized and spewed out in tests after sitting in a class or lecture, but the real learning the meaningful and transformative learning happens in interactions.

    And that is why we need learning facilitators, i.e. teachers, to guide each and every student to achieve the best they can and to cater for their individual needs. It is very easy to differentiate and individualize learning (and teaching) if we wanted to. The reason for me, as a teacher trainer and mentor for teachers, to use learning facilitation as the preferred term is the fact that otherwise teachers get so busy teaching and instructing that they don’t find time to support their students’ learning. And this of course is very far from just delivering the curriculum!!

    More about why learning is more important than teaching can be found at http://notesfromnina.wordpress.com/

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