I find myself thinking a lot about the role of teachers in the classroom.
Are students better served through coaching and mentoring support, instead of the direction they tend to receive?
And if students are better served by a more humanist, process-oriented learning experience, how can administrative mandates around curriculum achievement continue to be served?
In my experience, teachers as coaches foster a space where student enterprise may occur. What tips the whole class into a more creative, engaged learning space is when the early adopters among the students, those inclined to be self-starting, offer inspiration and models for their peers. Some will say that self-direction may be appropriate for some, but not for all. This has been the case with the students I’ve worked with. All have proved capable and enabled and curious in some regard, and when their teacher legitimises their interests and seeks to know more about their existing capacity that the culture of the classroom begins to transform.
It may seem obvious that institutions are less than interested in fostering these kinds of spaces, more inclined to pursue the prescriptive models of learning that have been implemented for generations. However, I am finding spaces that are more pliable. Business Studies is one such context. Another is working with drop outs.
As I am fond of saying; in an era of budget cutbacks, the most underutilised resource in education are students. When we help students identify their existing interests, legitimise their productive inclinations, and learn how to design curriculum, we are mobilising this resource. In my experience, once students confront their institutionalised or apathetic dispositions, they are keen for the challenge. It is teachers, administrators, and parents who are more resistant to trusting the nature of young people, and my work has been to design platforms that help all stakeholders transition to a model of learning that will prove more appropriate for the contemporary world.