Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Reverse Theory of Education

The reverse theory of education – one of the great ironies.

All levels of education from elementary to graduate school have the objective of creating independent learners and yet we systematically move people away from independent learning.

Very young children learn to walk and talk without being "taught".  They are truly independent learners.  Elementary school teachers are first teachers and not subject matter specialists.  They are great learning facilitators and are not hung up with subject matter or "covering the content."

As we move to high school, teachers become subject matter experts – language, mathematics, science, music, etc. and tend to become more concerned with the content than the learning.  There is a shift to more lecturing and covering the content.

At university, professors are even more specialized and concerned about the content and lecturing is king.  

We have perhaps unwittingly but systematically moved people from the wonderful independent learners they were in their first two years to become more and more dependent on the subject matter expert.  Is this what we really want to happen?