Friday, December 12, 2008

Teaching and learning

I am a teacher: I have raised children which is mainly teaching them how to be a human being by teaching them all the behaviors (including speech) we expect from fellow human beings.

I learn from many people, including Guru's Handbook, Chiron, and too many others to list. They're not all intentionally teaching, but I can learn nonetheless.

Not all students learn what the teacher thinks he's teaching.

Talking about yourself isn't teaching, it's establishing your authority to teach. How much of that do you need to do? Depends on the student; I was completely turned off by the pages and pages of appeal to authority at the beginning of Gavin de Becker's The Gift of Fear (which I strongly recommend), because I already believed he had knowledge I wanted and I wished he would just get to it. But many students need proof of mastery from a teacher before they'll engage with the material enough to learn.

We are each role models whether we like it or not, there's no consent involved here. Students *will* learn from what you do whether it's to hermit yourself away from community or open a school, whether you're a role model for useful behavior or for destructive behavior. Your agency has scope in the field of the nature of what you will teach, what lessons are available from you.

Be conscious.


Bobbe Edmonds said...

>"Not all students learn what the teacher thinks he's teaching."<

Being the example is still the best method for me. That which I can do, (and do well) I understand better.

This may sound like a "Well DUH!" moment, but you would be surprised the number of teachers who don't have even a minimal grasp of their subjects. It's all good as long as nobody above "Absolute Noob" walks in, but once a student who has a brain cell or two rattling around in his noggin' shows up, well, it's often a countdown to the teacher winging it.

This is where the need to talk about yourself in place of teaching comes from. Although, to be fair, some competent teachers will fall victim to the status quo, thinking "Everyone else is doing it this way, I must conform if I want to be recognized".

I just say be good at whatever you are doing. If you work hard and put the time in, your skill will speak for you, and no one will question it.

Kai Jones said...

Bobbe: That which I can do, (and do well) I understand better.

I don't understand everything I do.

My husband talks about 4 levels of mastery: unconscious ignorance, conscious ignorance, conscious competence, and unconscious competence. Most of what we do on a daily basis is at the highest level, unconscious competence. Who needs to think about how to walk, how to scratch an itch, how to read? When you try to explain, you can make mistakes--some of these explanations are after-the-fact rationalizations of something your lizard brain decided without the help of your intellect.

I've spent years thinking about training the lizard brain (I'm not a martial artist), specifically the problem of teaching the amount of awareness I have of possible risks in my environment without going through what I did to learn it. I'm still struggling toward an answer. You can model it for kids, but you have to subtitle it (narrate it?) or they won't know what you're doing. Rory does it by random attacks (!) which I've certainly used, although not to the extent he does.