Progressivism · Teaching and Learning

Neither teacher nor student: learning happens in the spaces in between

I don’t think you can easily identify a good teacher. Some students respond to one person in a way they would not respond to another. Good teams have a variety of teaching approaches delivered by teachers who differentiated by personalist, beliefs and teaching styles. Students need to experience different personalities and teaching styles. The quirky and the boring can be equally effective in balanced teams.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as a bad teacher. You can spot them even though they are few and far between. They don’t listen; they don’t value their relationships with students and parents. It doesn’t work in teaching. The “space in between” matters.

That is not to say that teachers have to be liked or be the “entertainment” it means that whatever the teaching style a teacher has to create relations with students, parents and the lived world. The relations have to be enriched by a “space in between” filled with learning materials, communication tools and collaborative opportunities.

Even knowledge, in part, resides without us. Symbols and the written word are a legacy of something that occurred in the past. Take the cross, perched atop the numerous churches that often dominate the physical spaces of the social world; no one alive brought them into being. Religious symbols mean different things to different people.  faith, and history to some; whilst to others, fear and loathing. The meaning of a cross is derived from how people think about it but it also impacts upon how people think.

Students do not necessarily learn what they are taught; they understand fragments and forget much. They also learn from each other, their parents, and from their “moment by moment” experience of the lived world. What is left behind when all else is forgotten are the bridges we have built to the things that reside external to us.

So for me, great teaching occurs in the “spaces in between”. In the relations, we have with our students and the relations they have with each other and the world around them. Great teachers construct bridges to better places by creating “spaces in between” that are rich in learning opportunities.

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