“Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.”
― Isaac Asimov
Ok. I am having a little bit of cognitive dissidence and I need some help.
I am not sure if I am confused or I have clarity. I thought I HAD clarity. But as things go lately, I am now confused about that clarity.
Let me explain.
Over the course of the past 2 years I have been on a journey that shifted my focus from one that was primarily centered on my teaching (what I did) to a focus on learning and mainly on what students do (both physically and mentally). Over the course of this journey, I have moved away from, in my mind, thinking of myself as a teacher. Increasingly I have felt much more of a learner than anything. This has led to a subtle shift but significant shift in my language (for example using I can statement instead of The learner will be able to statements) and…sigh…my whole view of education….no big deal.
Anyway. I am a still far from being able to fully articulate this cosmic shift in any reasonable fashion and sketch a clear picture for you. But some of the shifts I have experienced and observations I made are as follows:
As a teacher I designed a learning sequence and the learner followed it.
As a learner I walk along a path of learning shoulder to shoulder with the student, the outcomes not yet determined.
As a teacher I set up problems I hoped the student would find interesting and if they didn’t, oh well, try again next time.
As a learner, I did not set up problems. My students presented me with problems they found interesting and wanted to solve with me.
As a teacher I did most of the mental heavy lifting for mt students. I organized, I condensed, I chewed up.
As a learner I jumped in to the deep end with my students and we all figured it out together even though at times it was uncomfortable.
As a teacher I had a big tool box of strategies I would apply to students to activate learning.
As a learner I let the situation, the problem, the collaboration,, the validity of all these activate the learning.
As a teacher I judged for the student whether or not I thought learning was going on.
As a learner I trusted that the student could and would make that decision for themselves.
As a teacher I was warded value in the room de facto.
As a learner I earned value through the process of sharing my learning.
As a teacher I believed my efforts increase the quality of learning.
As a learner my connection to other learners amplified the learning.
And no, I did not full manifest the learner I describe above. I was still in the process of letting go off the vestiges of my teaching practice. The glimmers i did experience were enough to shift my definition of teaching and learning in a profound way.
Have I wandered off into the deep grass and got myself turned around? Do I need to scramble back up the hill quickly and get back on track? (and if so, how do I get there?)
Is this difference as significant as it feels to me?