Teach or Learn? Role of the Educator

This is something that feels natural, but how does one implement it in his or her own classroom? How do you change your way of teaching, keeping in mind the current curriculum and system of education? How do you reform you own class, your own space in the limited time that is given you? I find this a very difficult topic, since I teach geography (and ICT). I have to make sure my students learn the curriculum in a timeframe of 50 minutes per week. That’s not much! For a long time I struggled with time constraints and only recently found “a way out”. I wrote my own textbook, stripped it down to the bare minimum of content and allowed myself to play around with “projects” that touched with the curriculum. For instance, I chose to show the film “An Inconvenient Truth” and work with global warming. I showed “The Story of Stuff” and discussed the stuff we (should/shouldn’t) buy. These are sources I find to be very interesting and necessary to show my students. I got the overall impression they liked it too, especially the class discussions about their own life/decisions.

When reading George’s article about Teaching and Learning in Networks, I came across Stephen’s statement: “To teach is to model and to demonstrate, to learn is to practice and to reflect”. I found this very interesting. And it captures the thing I meant doing with my own textbook. Thought it may be just a tiny step in the “right” direction, I felt that with showing the films and talking about the content, the students were teaching themselves. They learned something instead of me teaching them the curriculum.

So, what’s next? What do we have to do? How do we change our role a an educator? Slowly but surely, we could start by talking the curriculum into our own hands, strip it down and attach interesting content to the bare skeleton. Off course this should be more than offering different content, but try to engage with your students. Be that part of their network that has something interesting to say, but also be aware that you’re only a part of their network!

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