Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A response to an Ed Tech

Recently I watched Bill Gates TED Talk.

Which while great in many ways left me very unsettled and very frustrated. Bill's statistics and data don't match well with my personal experience in so many cases. I do have to acknowledge that many times learners are under served but often I feel this is a result of a lack of other kinds of necessary support and the poor compensation system in place. We do get what we pay for. If the respect and compensation for being a teacher was equivalent to being a doctor or lawyer I think you could entice more people into the field and increase competition for jobs which would in turn improve all of education. But there is a lot more to it than that and that is really something for another post. What I really wanted to focus on is the term Teacher. Dean Shareski wrote a response to the same TED Talk and a review of it. That prompted him to Define "Teacher" I responded:

I lke the sentiment of this post and the comments others have made. I disagree with one thing though. You don't need and I don't want another name. I am a Teacher. A teacher is defined as one who teaches. I teach. I think you are more uncomfortable with the term because the perception of teach for so long has been to dispense knowledge, but to me it has always embodied all the things you describe and all the things I strive to do. Teaching is about relationships, it is about debate, critique, mentoring, guiding, disagree. Teaching is about sincere relationships that cultivate, motivate and accelerate the learning of both teacher and student. (Although there I actually do prefer the term learner) I don't want a new title. I am a teacher. I want more respect for that title.
I honestly believe it is about relationships. Bill's idea that everyone can have the best teachers is true but not from the perspective he believes. I can gain access for myself and my students to the very best information and lectures ever created. What can never happen with these situations by virtue of sheer logistics and volume are the personal relationships with those students. Richard Feynman as fine as his lectures may be can never ask "Michael, how's the shoulder doing, will you be able to play in tomorrows game?' It takes me in the class, with the students to do that. The relationships aren't the be all and end all. But they are the vital bridge between content and relevance.

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