Do you teach or educate?

Do you teach or educate?

I teach and I educate.  There is a difference but teaching does not mean I educate.

Teaching is the act of standing in front of class to follow a lesson plan while sharing the content students are to learn for the class or period.  It is the act of conveying information from one mind to another to take notes mentally or physically generating a log meant to be used later for review and processing.  This synapse is static; as neural  membranes, students are not receiving or sharing energy to change their mind or capture their attention.  The network of students can be said to be dead because no real engagement is taking place.  As a static, from teacher to student, “push notification”, transfer, the students are not engaged nor being led to some new thought as the information being given to them is not provocative or life relevant.

Education takes place when a student reflects on what is known now and compares that to what is being learned deciding if the content should be kept or discarded.  This is a universal choice process. I think of my choices for lunch and discard all other choices if favor of a salad because I am dieting.  To be educated is to say the mind is changed, learning has taken place for new knowledge has replaced the old upgraded in favor for current understanding of concept, fact or generalization. Education is not standing in front of the class guiding every thought, instruction, and process for every student to do it the same way, at the same pace, and with the same depth.  Students learning maturity determines this for if the work they are performing is relevant and motivating, because it applies to their experiences, then they choose to be educated vs. taught.  In this, the teacher is to become the coach, the one who sees the potential of the student, knows how he/she learns, and then facilitates thinking to learn within the student for the learning leap but helps the child reason through the process without judgement thus sharing a powerful connection between coach as teacher and student and between people as emotional humans.  This is education when a person moves from one point of understanding to the next either by self or by coach with a completely new understanding.

Do you teach or do you educate?

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Divorced from learning

The learning process is an individual one; one that requires a person to ask pressing questions about the world around them focusing in on their interests for the sake of learning.

Do we know how to be self-directed learners?

Can we model for students how to start with a question, finding answers in a variety of places, and pulling together all of the information to create a product that displays what we have learned?

How do we recognize this within ourselves as a driving force for new knowledge?

Being told how to do it

Do you like to be told what to do?  How about having someone look over your shoulder every minute to make sure you are doing it right?  Do the students we teach like this if we ourselves do not?  Managed learning really isn’t learning at all.  I have changed my point of view over the past two years because I have realized that what I learn for myself is my learning.  I own it.  I value it.  I am willing to share it.  While there is a need to have direct instruction, it should be minimal to allow students to venture in the “wonderment” side of learning.  Stimulate their thinking by asking questions that are open ended without a clear answer or path to get to that answer.  To do this a teacher has to become a coach and coach students through the learning process offering them support when needed, questioning them often to clarify their thinking, and ask them to reflect on their learning.  In contrast, scaled learning at every step divorces students from the real process of learning.

Divorced learning is characterized by classrooms that force students into a learning process where thinking is minimal and their creation of knowledge is rote memory practice.  Not all classrooms are alike, and realize this as I am typing.  What causes divorced learning?  Standardized tests that force teachers to teach to it so that their “score” at the end of the school year is in the excellent range.  Is the teacher really worried about deep learning or having a favorable review?  I think the answer to that is obvious.  The learning process is simply divorced from the content because having the facts that the standardized tests are testing is better than kids knowing how to learn.  With so much structure, how do students really learn?

Teachers as learners

As a teacher, my interest lies in giving kids methods to create new knowledge and how to find information.  So, I am a coach and as a coach it is my job to have a vision for learning and helping students to understand the learning process.  As a teacher I

  • continuously search for bleeding edge teaching and learning methods
  • read other teachers points of view
  • subscribe to blogs that help me learn
  • follow other teachers on Twitter
  • follow my own learning process religiously

Teachers as learners extends, for the most part, to professional development instances that are small shots of learning that usually doesn’t benefit the teacher.  Again, this is a general statement and teachers do find PD valuable.  Personal PD is more valuable than contrived instances with the hope that teachers take away something valuable for themselves.  Personal PD is self-directed learning and the teacher becomes the learner.  What does this mean for students?

  • Model how to learn
  • Reflect on your own learning process
  • Create learning products
  • Show how to find information
  • Let students struggle with their learning process


How do you learn?  Do you need overt structure to learn?  Is it difficult for you to synthesize your learning?  How do you innovate and authenticate your own learning?

Let Kids Rule the School –

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Who is the expert?

I have spent quite a bit of time reading and educating myself on the heavy hitters in the education reform movement and have come to a conclusion, the very same conclusion I have about what to know as learner and teacher. How do I become a more effective learner? Whose ideas and thoughts should I be reading to enrich what I know? With so much online, who should I read, what blog should I follow or not follow, and who thinks most logically about what they are saying? All good questions.

The nearest answer I have is to curate what you read. Curating, in my book, is reading or viewing something, deciding whether it is worth while or not, and then use some strategy, mine happens to be curating to Diigo/Evernote/Feedly, giving an opportunity to go back and read what I decided was good information. Effective curating means a person is probably using (what I call The Big 3) which are information literacy, digital literacy, and media literacy skills to say, “Hey, this is good stuff and I need to know this stuff to move me forward as a learner.” Those may not be the exact words, but I think you understand what I am saying. To curate, a person really has to be decided about the quality of information.

Back to the point. Exactly who is the expert(s)? I believe the experts are the people who say they are an expert, but I also believe that experts are in every corner of the education world but haven’t expressed their point of view. I just started reading Will Richardson’s “Learning on the Blog” and have to come to one conclusion in the first 15 pages:   Blogging allows a person to clarify, share, comment, and be critiqued on what they know. The idea of sharing is what allows an expert, no matter how heavy the name, to add to the overall body of knowledge. Many parts make the whole machine run and in this case, the experts are not just the BIG names in education but every voice that adds to the collective whole.  Are you an expert?