(originally posted on harterlearning on Feb 12, 2007)
Scott McLeod over at Dangerously I rrelevant brought attention to this April 2006 guest posting by Mike Wesch (who just made the incredible Web 2.0 you tube video…see earlier post in this blog). In his guest post on Savage Minds, Mike describes his World Simulation activity. He calls this activity an example of anti-teaching.
“Teaching,” he says, “is about providing good information. Anti-teaching is about inspiring good questions.”
Reading on in this post, it sounds like a terrific example of students learning and understanding cultures and how they differ and how they thrive (or not) in a globalized world. The activity in fact, seems like a great one and comments by actual students seem to confirm this.
I am struck, however, by his use of terms. Purposely, he refers to this successful activity as an example of anti-teaching. He continues to say that he finds himself anti-teaching more and more in his efforts to have students really learn. Has our opinion of teaching truly come to this? Have we lost all faith in the idea that teachers actually do teach for understanding and that the very questioning that Mike values is in fact the very same questioning that many teachers value? And they call that teaching.
Now I recognize that perhaps it is Mike’s intent to inspire us (like Apple) to Think Differently. His very use of this technology may anger some or at least make teachers defensive. But then, reading the comments, I found no such anger. No such indignation. No one saying, “Wait a minute, I do that stuff all the time and I’m a teacher.” Perhaps it’s Mike’s disclaimer that appeases people by saying classrooms need to have both teaching and anti-teaching. Or perhaps the World Simulation was just such a good activity that teachers were able to look past any slights and recognize a chance at a good lesson plan when they saw one.
Or maybe I am just too sensitive.
Recently there have been discussions in other blogs about teacher movies and whether they inspire people to become teachers, or paint the picture of teaching to be too intense and too life changing to be done by any mere mortal, I guess I am sensitive to how we as educators refer to ourselves and our colleagues. Maybe we don’t all do it perfectly or even well. But when we do, shouldn’t we be calling that “teaching”. Doesn’t it hurt our own cause to refer to best cases of students truly understanding as the exact opposite of teaching?
I love education. And I really love to see understanding happen around me. If, through something a teacher did/planned/encouraged, students start asking deep questions and demonstrate understanding, then I say we call that TEACHING. Because that’s why I think a lot of us got into this gig in the first place.