The wonderful Lisa Nielsen wrote a post today about the possibility of learning without teachers and how effective it can be. She brings up some valid points that schools have a hard time of fostering discovery or development of passions in their current state and instead focus on test scores and skills that are not relevant in a 21st century society. While I had similar experiences in schools (A teacher that told me “don’t bother studying because you’re just going to fail anyway”) and every teacher I had didn’t focus on developing my passions and interests, I still think that teaching is one of the most valuable skills in the world when done effectively and cannot be replaced.
I think what’s really going on is that the teaching model is broken, an idea many people can agree with. The realm of teacher responsibilities should not be “how much information can you get your students to remember?” but rather “How can you guide students to figuring out problems on their own?” Perhaps if we just rebranded teachers as mentors this idea would be more effectively communicated. We still need school buildings and these mentor-teachers to create places of collaboration and allow for the exchanging of ideas. We still need schools and mentor-teachers to create safe spaces for children and allow them to have the same resources as everyone else to ensure their success.
Learning from TED talks, blogs, YouTube, and MIT open courses is wonderful but this content didn’t get created on its own. It was created by people who are teachers–awesome teachers at that. Sometimes they give themselves that name and sometimes they call themselves something different. Instead of telling them where they should exist, lets take the really awesome teachers and help them extend their impact beyond the classroom walls. Lets think up models for replicating the best parts about classroom learning and figuring out a new model of education. I know the change has already started!