Learning with the Internet

Michael Godsey’s article The Deconstruction of the K-12 Teacher in The Atlantic is a bit depressing and terrifying. As a pre-service teacher who will be launching my teaching career in just 2 months, was not the happy, the-future-is-bright article I was hoping for.

Godsey’s article discusses the transformation of the teacher from a content-expert, “the sage on the stage”, to a content-facilitator, “the guide on the side”. This concept is something that has been repeated to me throughout all my classes in my M.Ed. program. The old teacher model prevented students from having direct access to the knowledge they needed which is why teachers as facilitators is a better solution. The students can know use discovery-learning, PBLs, and other methods to learn from the material and content directly instead of through second-hand learning from the lecturing teacher.

Now, I am all for this idea. I was educated in an extremely traditional classroom environment, where I was required to simply memorize information and regurgitate all by rote. There were no projects, no activities, nothing to stimulate into understanding the whys or hows of the material taught.

What depressed me in Godsey’s article was how the concept of the “teacher” is slowly diminishing to the point where theoretically anyone can teach anything. With the myriad of educative material available digitally, a video can become a substitute to actual teaching. As a facilitator, I wouldn’t even need to understand the material that students need to learn.

Now I totally understand that I don’t need to have a Ph.D. in the subject area in order to teach it, but shouldn’t I still know the differences between an acute and obtuse triangle? Don’t I need to know that George Washington did not ride an elephant across the Alps? Also, shouldn’t teachers, or facilitators, be also a bit responsible to model good social skills and help students learn to be decent human beings?

While I agree with the fact that students should have direct access to learning and knowledge, I don’t agree that teachers are becoming an obsolete profession….not just yet.

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