Have you ever thought what the word’ teacher’ really means?
Is it appropriate in the 21st century?
Having one ‘teacher’ in the room assumes transmission. ‘I’m in charge’ ‘I’m the one that knows.’ ‘I am going to teach you.’
Anyone working in classrooms today knows it is highly unlikely the person in charge of a learning group is going to have all the answers. In a world where students have the capacity to learn any place and any time the relationship has changed. So should conventional teaching be abandoned, or just tweaked? Should we now see ourselves as knowledge workers?
There was a time for many students where the teacher was the only person with the information. For many that had no access to books outside of schools or libraries, teachers were vital for knowledge transmission.
However, with life being transformed at a pace the human race has never experienced, this surely requires some revision. Why? It’s simple: if we invest in curricular and make decisions that are set in stone, by the time we bring these tablets down from the mountain they will be out of date. Flexibility and the ability to review, reappraise and reflect at speed, must surely be the role of knowledge workers? After all the concept of ‘teaching’ is almost an anachronism.
“Wisdom cannot be imparted. Wisdom that a wise man attempts to impart always sounds like foolishness to someone else … Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom. One can find it, live it, do wonders through it, but one cannot communicate and teach it.”
― Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Consider what is now core knowledge? Can you truly answer that? Is the advice you gave to students six months ago still appropriate? Some may well be relevant, but how we frame questions, perspectives and our own narrative arch is in a constant state of flux. That’s why being a knowledge worker that constantly questions the whole notion of epistemologies is a more appropriate model for the here and now.
“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.”
We are all know the problem with epistemologies is that the moment we create these systems of knowledge they solidify. They often lose their ability for flexibility and end up excluding as much as they include. We can’t keep ‘teaching just in case’. Students want to learn, apply, discuss and teach one another ‘just in time’ This ‘need to know now’ culture must fuel wholesale and dramatic transformations in two, three or four way knowledge transmission.
The frightening, challenging and exciting aspect of all of this is: we are all teachers and learners. So isn’t it time we chose a term that reflects this flexible and creative relationship and consign the conventional teaching model to a museum?
Should we see the profession as knowledge workers and knowledge designers? Or is this just a storm in a teacup?
Vivienne has an extensive educational track record having begun teaching in 1983 and has written for the UK’s Independent newspaper and the world famous TES. In addition she has published articles and books and been passionate about technology in the classroom over the past 15 years. She has made the creative leap from full time education professional to social media and digital marketing specialist.
Anita has a passion for hands-on activities that engage learners of all ages. She strives to model practical ideas for differentiating instruction and to support school leaders and classroom teachers with curriculum implementation. With over 20 years experience as an educator across Australia and the USA, she currently runs her own Mathematics Education Consultancy company. She has been both a secondary mathematics teacher as well as a primary and middle years consultant with the NSW DET in Sydney. Anita has conducted research into the use of concrete materials to teach Number and Algebra concepts in the Middle Years 5-9 and holds a MEd in Teaching and Curriculum Studies. Whilst teaching pre-service teachers at the University of Sydney she was nominated for a Teaching Excellence Award.
Anita’s whole school/faculty approach to providing tailored on-site professional learning across Australia K-10 encompasses in-class demonstration lessons, workshops for teachers and parents, small team curriculum planning meetings and long-term project work. In conjunction with TTA, she developed an innovative blended model of month-by-month PL for whole schools or clusters of Primary schools that enables communities of practice to learn, implement, reflect and share their knowledge for up to a six-month period of time.
Anita’s workshops and online courses are designed to be highly engaging, practical, thought provoking and relevant to current teaching practices and curriculum. She is a highly recognised speaker at both national and state mathematics conferences in Australia.