“Learning Experts”

I was looking for a topic this week and decided to take a look at the articles from Professor Ransom’s comment from the previous week.  In “It Will Change Education” Will Richardson writes “we are the learning experts (or at least we should be) in our communities.”  I borrowed that phrase for my title because I think it ties in with something I’ve been ruminating about for a while now.

When Professor Ransom suggested the idea that with such information at students’ fingertips, teachers might not be the experts that they’d previously been perceived, it honestly scared me a little.  If I’m not an expert to these kids, then what’s the point?

In this existential crisis, I realized that this might actually be a great opportunity for me to think about what kind of teacher I want to be.  It means that I won’t have to be the teacher who lectures from the front of the classroom from a textbook.  Homework doesn’t have to come from said textbook, which is how I remember the majority of my schooling.

And that’s when the panic really set it.  I don’t know if I know how to be any other kind of teacher! I mean, I hear all the time how teachers just starting out often revert to the style they know best.  So how can I learn to be the kind of teacher I want to be?

That’s when the phrase “learning expert” really struck me.  What a great alternative for the word “teacher”.  I could teach my students not just content but the best methods to learn.  More importantly, helping them discover the methods that work for them individually.  Which means that I have to become an expert in the ways that people learn.  This teaching thing is a lot more complicated than I thought, but what a great challenge.  To be able to look at a student and think, ‘How can I pull the best out of this individual?’

It seems to be that technology just may be affording us with ways of accommodating, encouraging, and hopefully even inspiring learners.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to ““Learning Experts”

  1. Thanks for reading! Glad my ideas resonated.

    I think we could even boil it down to this: Not just are we learning experts but are we simply learners first and foremost? The best way to fashion expertise in learning is to reflect on how we learn using these new tools and technologies for ourselves.

    So I would ask, if you are not a learner for your students, what is the point? That’s really where change starts.

    • Thanks for the feedback, Will! That just added a whole new layer to my thinking. If you’re constantly learning new things and trying to educate yourself, your students get a chance to see learning in action, see you’re excitement also benefit from what you’re learning. It seems like a great way to avoid relying on the same lesson plans year after year without really challenging yourself or your students.

  2. Stephen Ransom

    I think Will is right here… and there’s the notion that “expert” is somewhat subjective. And, perhaps the badge of “expert” may actually hold us back from being teachable… or “learn-able” – or as Michael Wesch describes, “knowledge-able” – something really hard to do, yet so worthwhile.

  3. Paula Thomas

    “Learning Expert” – what a great way of looking at our role as educationalists. There is so much content in the Australian curriculum that it is overwhelming. Trying to present this content in meaningful ways that engage and encourage critical thinkers is a challenge when the assessment is what you know rather than what new life skills and wisdom have you developed while trying to collaborate to create new knowledge and share it in meaningful ways. If we change the assessment goal posts and write challenging and open ended tasks that can still be assessed by teachers – or maybe even self assessed in peer moderation sessions by the students themselves then we can shift the mindset. We can best use our skills as “Learning Experts ” to explore the amazing web 2.0 tools to find the best tools to foster engaging classroom dialogues and learning tasks. For our students this active learning might change our classroom environment to be intrinsically motivating rather than the extrinsic model we use- where the most higher order thinking question we really challenge our students to ask is “What’s on the test?”

    • Paula, I like that term educationalists. Is it a common term in Australia? I feel like it’s not that widely used in the US. Your comment has left me with a lot to think about. I think I may have to reflect on it for my next post.

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