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Who's Doing the Work

The Person Doing the Work is Doing the Learning.


A mate of mine came to me one day and proceeded to detail how on entering the class, they found the teaching talking at the front of the class.  Ten minutes later they left the class and the teacher was still talking.  Pottering around outside of the class and thereabouts, they went back into the class and found the teacher in the same spot doing the same thing almost an hour later.

I often wonder about these heroic leaders who have this urge and need to hear the sound of their own voice ringing over and over again in their own ears.  I was thinking to myself: How disengaged would I be right now listening to myself?  What would I be learning if I was disengaged?  It strikes me as obvious when I say: Nothing!  This is where engaging students to learn well is about varying our tactics of teaching because the person doing the work is doing the learning.

I say don't be afraid to get students to do work and plenty of it.  Somewhere in there will be the learning connection that happens for them in terms of grasping the concept, understanding the concept and applying it to their lives.  But it surely can't be done with just one mode of delivery and besides Generation Y aren't really interested in what you have to say at all.  If they wanted to know about something they would have googled it yesterday: Had you given them a heads up that is.

I reflect on the days when my mother used to make me work at home where her motto was: Top to Bottom, Back to Front.  In other words, clean from the top downwards and from the back forwards.  My dad added to that by saying: A square at a time.  What's work got to do with learning you might ask? Well for those of us who love Maths, its about sequencing the activities we do and the rationale behind how we chose to do them.  It's great for those language and culture teachers who are talking about culture in language and how that order is often affected by the priority our culture gives them.  It's advantageous for those Scientists whose world of developing and proving hypotheses is about doing the first things first: Have an idea, see if it works, if it's proven then develop and extend it further.

The person doing the work is certainly doing the learning in ways that we probably don't even know right now for them so let's not discount the values of tasks and activities by boring the students witless with our pompous monologue.  We're meant to be the Guides on the Side not the Sage on the Stage.

Those of us who bought a usb dictaphone from the recent teachers conference ought to record ourselves often.  If you have only fifty five minutes of a class, what are you doing spending 43 minutes of it talking?  It only leaves me with one conclusion.  But heck I could be wrong, I've been wrong countless times.  However, it could be that I might be right somewhere though when I say -

  • You either have a power freak need going on and have to be the Sage on the Stage, or
  • you haven't honed your art of delivery and instruction well yet which means you have to repeat yourself or worse - go off on wicked tangents that confuse the heck out of the students, or
  • you haven't planned for anything else so you're filling up the silence with drivel. 

Like I said, I could be really wrong.  But if I was your student, that's the only thing I could come up with.  Nobody but you is doing any learning?!

And let's suppose that assumption is right.  I would then say: Go away and don't ever waste another hour of my life again!  I came here to learn so show me the countless possibilities of how that could happen. 

Teachers: Make it happen by making them work! For he who is idle profiteth nothing.