Higher Education (2)

The New Teaching Paradigm In Action

I've been teaching for 20+ years and the degree to which teaching paradigms have changed in the last decade continually amazes me. The old paradigm I learned as a fresh, red-cheeked grad student was that students were like blank sheets of paper, waiting to be filled with a teacher's wisdom/words/ideas/information. Students were passive and much of their knowledge was gained by simply memorizing or repeating information. This was what made a successful student—one who fit into the paradigm, meeting its requirements. I was such a student and so, taught this way.

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Learning by Doing

The Chinese have a proverb that definitely applies to teaching. It goes like this: "Tell me and I will forget. Show me and I may remember. Involve me and I will understand." As a teacher—though I could easily interchange this term with facilitator or guide—I believe real learning happens in action.

This thought isn't totally new. Education reformer Dr. Roger Schank believes the educational system is fundamentally flawed and suggests (and I paraphrase) that just as life requires us to do more than to know, it makes more sense teaching students how to learn by doing than mere theory alone. In other words, if we think back to when we first learned how to ride a bike, the only way to really "know" was to get on the thing, fall off a dozen times and eventually succeed in staying on.

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