Assume Learners Are Not Empty Headed

I’ve seen so many teachers think that learners need to be broken down. In order to understand what you are teaching they have to be re-trained from scratch and moulded afresh. This is not only dangerous since it assumes that you have the authority and the wisdom of a guru to do so, but I’ll tell you now, it doesn’t work. If you think it does, then I’m not sure how well you’ve been listening. That’s because every learner comes to the table with their own intelligence, strategies, habits, and learning patterns. They, like you, see the world and relate to knowledge through a particular lens. They don’t need to be reconditioned to your way of thinking—they need to be inspired to think reflexively about how they think and learn. When learners are challenged to reflect on the value of the knowledge you are presenting to them then an interesting thing happens—they become more open to learning and they coincidentally challenge you to articulate it betterly. Part of my job is to disrupt the habitual way in which they learn, and I do this by example. In other words, I must also challenge the habitual ways in which I teach, and constantly iterate on the way in which I articulate what I know. How is it that you have come to know what you’ve learned? How do you improve the process of learning new things and have them stick? How do we make sure that what we are teaching is still relevant? How can we leverage the combined intelligence in the room to make for more interesting learning and interested learners?