The BIG Failure of Trust


The reason we teach is because we don’t trust people to learn. People will learn in any case, even without any teachers. It seems that we have decided that there are quite a lot of MUST LEARNS for our modern society and the only way we can ensure that everyone learns the MUST LEARNS is to teach them in a specific regimented way, all together in age groups so that they learn the MUST LEARNS in the CORRECT ORDER.
Teaching is a really good way to create knowledgeable teachers. Unfortunately, it’s not so good at creating knowledgeable students. But how can we trust students to learn things, well really, learn the things we want them to learn. Who knows what they might learn if we simply showed them how to learn and enthused them to follow their own interests and build their own future; chaos I expect. There might be thousands of people doing things and making mistakes which if they had listened to us, they would not have needed to do and so would not have made any mistakes. Of course, teachers must learn things and often make mistakes; that’s how they learn after all. They learn through their mistakes so that they can STOP students from making mistakes.
Well maybe it’s not quite like that but not that far off.
In the UK we have an educational department to check up on teachers, to make sure they are doing teaching in the right way and teaching the right things at the right time. Teachers must use certain techniques to enrich the learning experience.
Have we forgotten that the whole point of education is LEARNING and NOT TEACHING? Why don’t the assessors talk to the students and not to the teachers. Why are they bothered about techniques if students are actually learning? Surely a bad school is one where students don’t learn anything and a good school is where there is significant progress in learning. The teachers are irrelevant when education is viewed this way.
Of course, we don’t want to dispense with teachers we should just let them get on with it and give them feedback as to how much learning is taking place. If teachers don’t care about learning then get some who do care. I suspect that most of them already care very much about learning.
AND of course, we don’t need to tell students how to learn because we have teachers to LEARN THEM (make them learn)!!!
But what if we concentrated on showing young and even older people, how to learn effectively and also showing them the wonders of what can be learned and then providing them with the help they need to get on with it. We could even explain to them, something teachers already know, that is that helping others to learn is one of the very best ways to learn.
Do we really need to separate age groups and ability groups and put all of the same people together? The brighter students don’t benefit from helping the less bright ones and the less bright ones don’t benefit from the individual tutoring offered by a willing and able student.
In a system like this, teachers become facilitators and guides and providers of feedback, and learning organisers. Having subject experts who are both highly competent in their subject and highly motivated to both learn and share its wonders represent a fantastic resource to offer to students with a thirst for knowledge and learning. But this isn’t something which should be the major part of learning. The major part of learning should be carried out by the learner.