The National Education Trust is an independent charitable foundation
leading and promoting excellent practice and innovation in education.
29 April 2012
Rebel or robot? - deciding which learning route to follow
Click here for a print version of this article.
How acute is the focus of the teacher or the learner?
In every lesson valuable information spills into and out of every verbal and non-verbal engagement. Each nugget comes with a signpost, and both learner and teacher must decide rapidly which one to follow. Some make no decisions, others make decisions using poorly interpreted or poorly communicated information.
Highly effective teachers and learners, in a relentless pursuit of their goal, make decisions that link the previous with the next on a stepping stone unique to the footprint. What goes into these decision-making processes?
Can the teacher be a rebel or are they prefabricated into a robot template that follows previous practice with predictable slow-pace delivery, syllabus paralysis and peer-shared identikits? Pedagogic rebellion presents enormous challenges for the teacher.
Outstanding teachers teach learners, including themselves, to learn in a maelstrom. This confused palate of trust, unsupervised verbal and non-verbal actions and unexpected stimuli is dependent on willing participants. It cannot come easily to a person whose predominant DNA manifests a dull reliability, narrow boundaries of experimentation, expectation and imagination, along with limited cognitive capacities.
Securing rebellious decision-making capacity from a teacher depends on five ingredients:
Each moment of wasted emotional, written, thought, graphic and verbal opportunity is another robotic victory for teacher over learner. Sometimes the classroom has to be a battlefield. If the learner is to have their unique needs identified and developed (hopefully in large part by themselves), then the culture of rebellious learning has to thrive. The speed this happens at can often be directly proportionate to the speed at which a lesson derails into drivel content masquerading as planned objectives.
The rebel learners expose their nature willingly. They want individuality, questions without answers, debate, things that break for no reason, time to break them some more and then fix them. They do not want help, direction, fussiness and limits. They desire opportunity to say, be silent, think, disagree and propose. They want to bring the best of their ‘childness’ to each unexpected moment where their thoughts dominate and lead. They respect each other as much as they respect the experience of someone older, if not necessarily more intelligent or aware. Surprisingly, children tend to respect the expectations robot-pedagogic schools deliver to them far more than we think, expect or could reasonably hope for!
This undeserved advantage of pedagogy over learning is the principal reason why rebellious teaching must lead all to rebellious learning. Teachers do not regularly see that they must co-distribute the seeds of rebellion. Otherwise, what they will be a party to with the learner will either be submission into expected tramlines of mediocrity or a waste of everyone’s time.
It is excellent practice to decide to share the seeds of learning rebellion with a group of people who maybe smaller, smarter or weaker than the teacher. This decision represents a signpost pointing learners towards true progress which will require, exploit and develop the skills of all to the maximum.
Colm Cregan is Principal Inspector, Dubai Schools Inspection Bureau, and a NET Leading Thinker.
|Phone (44) (0)1494 568869|
|Follow us on
||Join our mailing list
||Buy NET products online
|Copyright © National Education Trust 2013
The National Education Trust asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this web site. Unless otherwise specified, all material on this website may be used for non-commercial purposes, on condition that the source is acknowledged. The National Education Trust is not responsible for the content of external websites.