Feb 162012

Martin Wesch's reflection on his and other teachers' practices seems to be going, in terms of what "education" should be, in the opposite direction of the new projects like MITx, Udacity, Coursera, etc. Here's a glimpse:

"So what’s wrong? In short, the common thread I see throughout all the failures is quite simply a lack of empathy. There is no authentic encounter with students, or what Martin Buber called “a genuine meeting.” When we use all the right methods, and we still fail, it is most likely because we are encountering our students as objects and not as the rich and complex individuals that they are. When we do not bring our authentic selves to the classroom and open up to an authentic encounter with our students and the topic at hand we fail, regardless of the methods we choose. “Methods” and “techniques” need to grow out of an authentic encounter with students and the material. Any focus on method and technique alone will be prone to failure. Our questions will fall flat, our lectures flatter, and break-out sections, group work and other participatory methods become just one more thing to do, seemingly without purpose or relevance. "

This is a quick little essay about why a teacher can employ all the “right methods” (pick your buzzword: student-centered, learning-centric, participatory, collaborative, problem-based, etc.) and embrace all the most rich, compelling, and engaging technologies, and still fail. This is an essay in the true sense of the word (which Gardner Campbell has recently reminded me is derived from the French infinitive essayer, “to try” or “to attempt”) … s…

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