Last week, our ECI831 class listened to a presentation by Stephen Downes that explored the changing role of the teacher. He argued that these many roles would eventually be divvied up among educators who are experts at only one role. To me this seemed too much like an assembly line business model of education that denies the fact that teaching is an art, rather than an acquired skill. Certainly, teachers are continually honing their skills and working to improve education; yet it is not necessarily something that can be explicitly taught. There are many people who have acquired specific skill sets and know a lot about a particular concept or idea. This does not always mean that they are good teachers. Anyone who has sat through a 100 level university lecture can attest to this. Although many profs are passionate about their subject area, they are not necessarily passionate about how students learn their subject matter. An expert teacher focuses on teaching the whole child; this takes the whole teacher. As educators, we are able to balance these many different roles and sort out which role needs to be given attention at any given time. Teaching takes heart, body, and soul: these cannot be divided. For more around this idea, I would direct you to the article, “Teacher as Rain Dancer” by Simon Hole (1998). In this article, the author explores the idea of how tension is created in the classroom when trying account for the needs of the student, the needs of the class, and the needs of the teacher. He uses the metaphor of “teacher as rain dancer”. Just as a rain dancer does not know when the steps are perfect and it will rain, a teacher does not know what steps will create perfection in teaching.
Hole, Simon. (1998). Teacher as Rain Dancer. Harvard Educational Review 68: 413 –421.