21 11 2007

An academic recently wrote in the Higher Education supplement of The Australian that he thought (school) teaching was about motivating students. He suggested that uni students were motivated already so all the lecturer had to do was pass on their knowledge of the subject area. My goodness! I wonder what he thinks learning is – memorising stuff?

So, I’ve been thinking about learning a bit lately, well, learning and teaching. I think the two go together. Is the notion that learning is about gaining knowledge and teaching teaching is about passing on knowledge too simplistic (other than providing a basic definition)?

It’s not that you can’t learn without being taught – we often come to a better understanding of things on our own, without the help of another. We find and give ourselves the new knowledge – we’re teaching ourselves.

So, we can learn – but can we teach ourselves to learn? Why do we need a teacher? Only because the teacher already knows more than us? Can the teacher show us new ways to learn? Expose us to new knowledge and ideas that encourage our ability to go on and make sense of new things ourselves. It all depends on the context and content… It’s a complex process – and not just about one passing on facts to another. It’s more about relationship and one knowing the other and understanding how best to support the other to make meaning from the input (facts etc.) they receive.