There is a quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupery that goes as,
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”
It is said that teaching is like lighting a fire. Teachers just act as facilitators between the heat and the paper to enable them to combine with the oxygen from the environment. A Teacher can use various tools to produce that flash, to create that environment full of oxygen. In the end, it is all about the adjustment of the child to the world.
The same applies true for any adult learning programmes, even with the minds of the brightest kind. Albert Einstein affirmed that, “I never teach my pupils, I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn”. Learners must be left free to express themselves. They must discover knowledge for themselves. A teacher just brings the learners to the subject.
The wisdom behind The Learning Pyramid
Dale’s Cone of Experience, that is shunned by some and accepted by others, states that, teachers can introduce the world to the learners through scripts, speech and sight. Higher percentages of memory retention or subject recollection are happening when the learners are involved in the actual process. It is the purpose of the teacher to provide those conditions where the pupils could get involved. The involvements include a dramatic representation of the subject where the students are involved in it, simulation of the real experience or doing the real thing. Naturally, these things are implementable on the basis of the subject and the conditions available for them.
Learning in a structured manner
This brings us to the modern style of learning called the structured learning where the subject is introduced by the facilitator through print, visual or through the traditional formal classroom setup. The next stage involves, interacting with fellow pupils or peers having similar interests. This is all about sharing the knowledge you know and getting the knowledge they know. Although there are cynics who state that learners with half the knowledge could create more confusion among others with a similar condition. Again, the teacher can play the role of the facilitator to alleviate the ambiguity. Finally, the learner has to get involved with the subject by actually implementing the knowledge on a day to day basis under the able guidance of the teacher. On various occasions, this has proved to be fruitful for the learners to grow at the speed of business.
It is the responsibility of the teacher to give the pupils the right content, at the right speed and place, to the right team and in the right format. They need to establish a safe proactive learning environment that would challenge the learners to transcend boundaries. The learning solution providers need to replace reading, writing and arithmetic with a curriculum that develops bright minds, skilled hands and a kind heart.
There is no singular style of teaching and there is no singular style of learning. The Cone cannot be held true in matters where certain minds could conceive more than 70% of what they read while many could hardly remember the entire specifications of a car that passed by their window a few days ago. In an unfortunate environment, even the stars can be termed as failures and in a supportive environment, even failures can shine like bright stars. This again emphasizes on the creation of the right platform for the right mind.
Teaching should be more of a Passion than a Profession
As Peter Drucker rightly said, “Teaching is the only major occupation of man for which we have not yet developed tools that make an average person capable of competence and performance. In teaching we rely on the ‘naturals’, the ones who somehow know how to teach.” It is a known fact in today’s digital age that attention spans are running short and the retention capacity only increases when the instructor mixes short lectures with peer collaboration. In the end, it is always the teacher that makes the difference, not the classroom.
It is worth mentioning again that teaching is a noble profession, not because it shapes the character, caliber and future of an individual, but because a good teacher is remembered by thousands of people, not for the subject they taught, but for the way they taught it. They knew when to explain and when to let the students discover things for themselves. This is superfluously described in William Arthur’s words when he said that, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”
It is the acumen of a great artist to dish out the right act at the right moment for the right audience. The job of a teacher is no less than that of a performer when it is said that teaching is 10% theory and 90% dramatics. A teacher’s job is not done until and unless the pupils understand what they have been taught.
“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.”