The presence of a teacher

Okay, okay. Let me cut to the chase about who get’s it, who doesn’t and what ‘it’ is. First of all, I’ll speak for the planet, as that is a key element of social media participation.

I drew this brilliant diagram the other day to explain what ‘it’ is. Those who have abandoned the mono-teaching methods by which students learn by absorption – content aligned to examination. Although that dominates education – the ‘it’ that teachers in the metaverse is the stuff beyond that rather tired vista.

Presence is what we seek to create. Social is the third (new) element that is part of our social lives, and therefore our learning experiences. Online-social is magnified if you are part of today’s youth – for all manner of reasons and functions. School of course hates the idea of ‘social’, unless it is created in a creepy tree house – aka – the portal or closed garden.

Teaching is therefore not the intersection between teacher and cognition anymore. Teachers are great at provisioning for the test – but beyond that and into the social …? They might not get ‘it’, but then they really don’t need to – and still do what high office wants – incremental improvement on test scores. The Minister says this is what “parents want”.

The teacher is now the instructional manager. They create a social climate for students in a number of ways – virtual worlds, blogs, wikis etc. – but they don’t overtly teach there. They create the cognitive roadmap, buy designing activities that align with outcomes and assessment. The ‘it’ is that intersection between cognitive and social – that is dominated, negotiated and determined by the students.

Schools get away with banning it – because students use it in ways most appropriate to them, modelled not from adults, but from peers. They learn social behavior from each other, which is not always pleasant. It is not for teachers to teach this, anymore than it is for them to tell kids not to swipe their parents car-keys at the age of 15 and drive it into a wall. If we want to create presence in the classroom, we have to be explicit about this social boil that is growing on the back of education.

Before we start measuring ‘it’ in terms of how many blogs they have, how many wiki projects … we first have to determine to what degree we can facilitate learning in this three way model. If we can’t – and if parents really just want high test scores and shop for education online, then we have to make sure that parents and students are deeply involved in the negotiation of any substantial change to the curriculum.

I don’t think that transformation in how we learn and teach is about technology –‘ it’ is about creating presence – and that comes from learning better craft and accepting new roles, climates and social interaction, not denying it.


3 thoughts on “The presence of a teacher

  1. I enjoyed reading your post Dean. I agree that transformation in learning and teaching isn’t about technology but it does embrace technology. Its also not about those incremental improvements that many seek but about thinking where we might take our students, what the future might hold for them and then by schools setting about creating the opportunities, experiences and environments that will set our students on their way.I think your diagram encompasses this notion. I would like to see the “presence” label at the top, overarching and setting the scene. Perhaps this lies in leadership……….

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