The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Let Them Learn, Don’t Teach …

As many of you know, I spent 5 years trying to pass a bunch of teacher qualification so I could one day be a lecturer at MIT.

It should have taken 2.

And while I [eventually] passed and have done the odd lesson here and there, the reality is I find the whole thing very difficult.

Part of that is because I’m a bit thick, part of that is because the students I’ve worked with are ridiculously smart [one is 21 and re-engineering the pace maker for fucks sake] … but the other part is that so much of the ‘higher education industry’ seems to be focused on teaching, rather than on helping students learn.

Of course, both of those are interconnected, but for me, it’s about the core motivation.

If it’s about ‘teaching’ … then your focus is communicating the curriculum within the time allowed.

If it’s about ‘learning’ … then your focus is on enabling the students to grasp concepts that they can then use with their own free will.

I am absolutely in the latter camp, which is why I’ve found MIT a bit of a struggle and why I’ve found The Kennedys such a joy.

Of course it doesn’t help there are systems in place where the students ‘grade’ the teacher.

Seriously, how stupid is that?

I appreciate there’s some bad teachers out there, but to give students the authority to pass judgement based on their experience is ridiculous.

Of course, in a perfect world they would be able to do this objectively, but as we all know, so much commentary these days is from a subjective point of view so you could be a great teacher who is given a bad grade by students simply because you didn’t give them the grades they desired because they didn’t warrant them.

Now I’ve made a distinction between higher education and more junior – but that’s not to say they don’t suffer the same issues – but the reason I write this is because of that article at the top of this post.

Despite the author inferring they found it educational and inspirational, I’m not sure that approach would be allowed today.

I appreciate it is fairly radical, but handled correctly, it not only helps students learn, but it opens a debate that would help them truly understand.

To me, that is what education is about …

Giving students the tools to challenge, destroy and liberate stuff … because if we don’t give them that, what hope has society to move forward, let alone stand up against those who wish to do us harm?

19 Comments so far
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You might want to rethink your strategy because based on the video you posted a few days ago, I’m not sure The Kennedys would grade you highly.

Comment by DH

They all lied about the worst aspect of the experience.

Comment by John

You mean they didn’t really hate me the most?

I’ve got to be honest, I hope not … especially as some of the assignments involved dyeing their hair white, eating live squid, sleeping in a bed at IKEA when the store was open and diving in winter off the island on the most easterly point of Shanghai to name but a few.

Mind you, maybe that is why they hate me. Ha.

Comment by Rob

I think there is a lot of love for Robert in this video. There is also a lot of cheek. That shows the level of influence Robert has had on them.
One question Robert, why is your colleague beeped at the end?

Comment by George

You could be right, no one hit him and I bet that’s what he deserves.

Comment by DH

I think the bleep was explained in the accompanying verbiage – he apparently revealed the nature of the upcoming final assignment.

Comment by John

2/1 its a fucking nuclear bomb or a queen jukebox you can ever turn off. id rather have the bomb.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s neither of those 2 things … it’s way, WAY better.

So good, I asked them to make me one too.

Jill is not happy. Hahahaha.

Comment by Rob

You what the teacher did to the kids to teach them about racism is still nothing compared to the stuff you used to push on us.

Comment by DH

what the fuck are you trying to say with this piece of badly written shit?

Comment by andy@cynic

Still better than the stuff Rob writes.

Comment by DH

what isnt.

Comment by andy@cynic

Too many education systems focus on educare which means. to teach and mold while ignoring the other root of the word whch is educere and means to lead out.

The best educational environments enable students to learn how to learn. Once people know how to learn, they never stop.

Comment by John

Yep, that’s all it is about and all that some get wrong.

Comment by Rob

campbell teaching anything scares the fuck out of me.

Comment by andy@cynic

except if its lessons in what not to fucking do.

Comment by andy@cynic

Excellent post Robert. I would love to hear more about what you have learnt from your dealings with MIT and the Kennedys.

Comment by Lee Hill

you having trouble sleeping then lee?

Comment by andy@cynic

So in New Jersey, there was an assignment to make posters about slavery, an assignment that they had been doing for several years. And, lo and behold, some people saw it at a back to school night this past month and freaked out. Because, go figure, there were posters about slaves being sold, and how some were “housegirls”. While there are of course many way’s to discuss our history, some of them are jarring, as your example in your post. But our history has a significant amount of scary, bad parts to it. But it is our history. And we need to make sure that we teach it, and not sweep it under the rug. And sometimes we need a jarring approach to demonstrate that.

So no, I’m not sure your example would be able to be done now day’s. And yet, it should be.

Comment by Tim

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