Where is the Overlap Between Teaching and Learning?

As an “aging” educator and a self-professed lifelong learner, I have spent a lot of my time thinking about both teaching and learning within the confinements of the educational classroom. Are the concepts of teaching and learning synonymous with each other? Or are they exclusive from one another? I have recently been part of several different conversations where “yes” was the correct answer to each of these questions. While the answer is certainly debatable, especially within context, the truth probably lies somewhere on a continuum between these two opposites. I cannot help but think of a quote by Seymour Papert: “I think it’s an exaggeration, but there’s a lot of truth in saying that when you go to school, the trauma is that you must stop learning and you must now accept being taught.”

Maybe the question is not whether teaching and learning are the same or different, but how they are being represented in the classroom. Let me ask the question another way. Does a teacher in a classroom feel they are learning alongside their students? Do the students feel that they are each responsible for teaching their classmates in conjunction with learning with their teacher throughout the day? Those are much different questions, aren’t they? Each question puts both the teacher and student in a much different frame of reference from the original two. Our standardized model of education has been built around an industrial “factory” model, where students historically sat in rows and were taught specific tasks, one task at a time, and then were asked to regurgitate the information back. All this was done to prepare them for a life of “acceptance and drudgery” of the factory environment. But times have changed, technology has changed, and our students have certainly changed as well. Most administrators, teachers, and students would agree that this century-old “sage on the stage filling empty vessels” model needs to evolve, but transformation does not happen overnight. Teachers tend to teach as they are taught, and the system seems to be caught in a cycle that perpetuates on itself.

So, while large, wholesale changes within education are in order, what if we all begin to take small steps to help move the dial away from our traditional approach to education. I feel that we need to think about teaching and learning not as separate entities but as one in the same.

How different is it from a student’s perspective if the teacher is no longer responsible for “knowing it all,” but is on a learning walk alongside the class? Now with technology at our fingertips an answer to most questions is just a Google search away. Meanwhile, what if a student saw their position in the classroom as a shared responsibility to learn, think critically, and share their knowledge with their teacher and fellow students? That is indeed a much more exciting and dynamic classroom experience for both student and teacher alike.


Passion and Play in the Classroom

The idea of “play” as an educational structure in the classroom is a not new concept, but historically there has been significant international interest in research related to the benefits of student learning through play. Mitchel Resnick, a founder of the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten group, has just published a new book based around… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part IV)

In the final installment of my blog series concerning education and technology, I would like to look ahead at the new technology that is currently attracting interest within educational and academic research. As a reminder, this series stems from the Jean Piaget Society conference I attended which had the theme “Technology and Human Development.” In… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part III)

This blog post is the third in a series concerning technology in education stemming from the Jean Piaget Society Conference I attended in June. The theme of this year’s conference was “Technology and Human Development.” It provided a venue to discuss technology through a variety of different academic disciplines and research frames of reference all… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology Have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part II)

I have been exploring the idea of technology in education since attending the Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference in San Francisco in early June. The theme for the 2017 conference was Technology and Human Development. In my last blog post, I reflected on the increasing rate of change in technology and how that exponential change… Continue Reading

What Part Does Technology have to Play in the Future of Education? (Part I)

The major theme of the Jean Piaget Society annual conference in June was Technology and Human Development. Since attending the conference, I have been part of several fascinating discussions that I would like to explore concerning the future advance of technology within education. In his book Singularity, Ray Kurtzweil talks about how human beings are… Continue Reading

Attending a Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference

A few weeks ago, I was privileged to attend the 47th Jean Piaget Society (JPS) Conference held in San Francisco. This annual conference brings together an intriguingly diverse group of individuals interested in the psychologist Jean Piaget and his prolific work in the area of constructivism and childhood cognitive development. At this conference, you can… Continue Reading