I don’t want to sound negative or too critical but I have to comment on the class with Stephen Downes. I wonder how long it has been since he was actually in a classroom? I also wonder what grade level he used to teach. I have taught grade 3-11 with a heavy stint in middle school and I am surprised that someone would say in a presentation to currently practicing teachers that it is to be expected that soon teachers will be wearing may hats!! Hmmmmm. It seems to me that his has been happening ever since I have been teaching. We are nurses, councilors, surrogate parents, referees, coaches, scientists, writers, mathematicians, artists, comedians, performers, nannies and the list goes on. Did the role of a teacher simply being a teacher ever exist? Even when I attended school in the ’60’s I don’t think it did.
Another critique I’d like to make or perhaps question I would like to pose after my comment is where Stephen suggested teaching would be going. He mentioned that it would be experts delivering the content. The example he provided was that a physicist would be teaching the physics class? Hmmmm, My question, is he kidding? Really is he kidding? The idea does sound plausible and makes sense. I can provide two very sound reasons why this would not work.
1. What physicist would succumb to teaching highschool physics at a teachers wage????
2. When experts teach they teach at a level well beyond the level of the learn and many if not most can not bring the level of understanding down to the learning. The expert gets quickly frustrated as to the learner shutting down the entire process. That does not mean to say that the teacher teaching physics does not have a strong understanding of the content nor does it imply that you should not bring a physicist in to talk with students.
I think what I am trying to say is there is a lot more to teaching than understanding the content. Teaching strategies, practices, knowing how, when and who to differentiate content for and reflecting of lessons in order to better provide more understanding for the learning. Importantly we are moving away from the direct teaching methods and more into an inquiry based model where teachers are facilitators guiding students to find the answers for themselves.
Something to think about. Let me know what you think. . .