Another question requiring courage: Is teaching bad?

I've been attending all the discussions I could possibly find these days. (Believe it or not, today I simultaneously attended Michael Coghlan's talk at YM for the baw2005 group **and** the Tapped In session by Dana and the others for the weblogging group, because I was determined not to miss anything. I just hope I didn't sound too confused, trying to keep up with both!)

Anyway, my point is this: In most of these talks, discussions, and conferences, I've received the impression that "teaching" is nowadays a no-no, and that classes should be run differently so as to encourage student empowerment, decision-making, etc. Of course, all our textbooks say the same, so it's no surprise to me, and to a large extent I agree, **but** I have to be totally honest and say that when I look back on my own learning experience, a lot of my best teachers were exactly that: *teachers* (in the traditional sense). I mean, they were authoritative and the center of the class, and very much in charge. So I find myself wondering: Is that necessarily bad? Isn't this the old pendulum case all over again? I mean, it's not necessarily true that new ideas are always better than old ones, is it? I'd guess that each has their merits and demerits, and that very often it's just a matter of knowing when to use which method rather than clinging to one or the other.

So what do you say? Is "teaching" (as opposed to mere facilitating/supporting/etc.) bad?

Looking forward to receiving help on this question!
Susan @>---;--
Tehran, Iran


Cleve said…
Excellent question Susan, and my response is "right on!": Teaching is Good. May be the EVO 2005 weblogging zeitgeist, because I've been having the same thoughts exacty, especially when I read posts that say "let's move beyond teaching and towards facilitating". I think it's largely (but not entirely) a matter of semantics though, much as the question of "management" that I've been kicking around with James and Aaron. I think I'm going to have to post on this myself...
Yes, Cleve, I agree that part of it (and maybe a great part of it)is mere semantics, but sometimes it gets so that you feel backward and behind the times if you say anything else, doesn't it? Especially in an atmosphere (or should I say blogosphere? ;-) where everyone is trying to catch up with new ideas and find fault with the old. Quite natural, of course, and it helps us discover new and often liberating methods, but I guess we sometimes get carried away by our own eloquence and enthusiasm and don't do justice to older methods. I mean, maybe it *isn't* the case that all the wonderful people I am meeting every day in EVO 2005 are so wonderful *in spite of* their own often traditional educational backgrounds, but that some of them actually owe their greatness in some measure to those backgrounds? (Hope I'm still making sense!)

It's not that I don't go in for all these new ideas; if I didn't, I guess I wouldn't be here. *But* I want to keep an open mind both ways, and not be prejudiced either way. You know, all this reminds me of how I feel when I look at pictures of my mom 30 years ago: The clothes look absolutely fabulous on her and so does the hair-style (and they were the height of fashion back then), but I know if I went out looking like that today, I'd be laughed out of town! The question is: if it was good-looking back then, why should it be funny today? I guess there's a fashion in teaching styles just as in hair styles ...

I hope you do decide to write more on this topic in your blog (and mine!); I'd love to hear more about your ideas on this. :-)

Susan @>---;--
Tehran, Iran
Sara said…
Hi Susan,
I think you've raised a very important question. Altho I think of myself as a facilitator more than a teacher (for a lot of reasons), when I look back on my own experience as a student (I know "learner" is the word of choice nowadays!), it's the teachers who stand out. I guess the question is: Do the same teachers stand out in the memories of other students in the classes or was it just a case of a particular connection those teachers made with me.
Nancy McKeand said…
Susan, I thought you might like to know that people are reading your blog! I found a link to it here:
Azzam said…
Dear Susan,

After meeting you in the supplementary training session in Learning Times, I decided to make a point of reading your blog. I was curious and wanted to get to know you a bit better.

This posting intrigued me and forced me to think of my schooldays. The teachers who had the greatest impact were those who cared about me, who challenged and had faith in me even when I didn't faith in myself.

Now that I'm more independent, I don't need the the strong teacher role and am more self-driven.

I do, however, feel there is a difference between teaching and learning. Instructors teach but students learn. It has been my experience that the teacher presence found in a f2f classroom is difficult to replicate online. So, I try to focus on facilitating the student learning online and provide teacher presence in the class - Blended Learning.

In the end, the approach you adopt should suit your personality in class and in cyberspace :)

Thanks for letting me share this with you.
Nikui Nezhad said…
Hello dear great Teachers and learners.
However, what can replace the feelings dominant in the class? How is it possible to teach and learn when there are no REAL student and teacher in the class? What is the purpose of teaching and learning? Those in favor of “no , no teachers” motto may miss the effectiveness of emotional and sometimes the spiritual relationship between those involved in education? Don’t they think that THIS can lead to more traditional ways of teaching and learning, namely, transmission of knowledge ? If the future is going to opt for “no teacher classes!? “, I wonder how I can miss the Teaching class of my great professor, DR…………… I have learned much more things from being in his presence than what was covered during the course itself. The teacher himself/herself can be the best model. Surely, never can the future classes miss these wonderful models!!
Technology with REAL TEACHER and Real Presence in class.
Fatemeh Nikui Nezhad, A teacher and an M.A student.

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