Teacher as co-learner and other arguments about knowledge

“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks and perceive differently than one sees is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all” M Foucault

In my line of work (my day job) i am involved with education and it’s relationship with technology. This work sees me in schools, universities and other places of institutionalised learning operating as a consultant, assisting them to come to grips with the challenges technology is posing to existing structures and it’s potential to change the way we teach and learn. The core of my work is centred in epistemology – the study of knowledge – and its relationship with the internet. When I present I often speak of what knowledge is, where it resides, and what are the implications for teacher practice.  I often get some very strong reactions from teachers. My opening statement generally goes along the lines of, “knowledge never reside in the individual, it resides in the network.”

By this I mean that knowledge is not a tangible thing that can be transfered from one individual to another, in fact knowledge resides in the relationships, it is built up within the  discourse (language or practice). While objects might physically exists outside of these discourses any attempt to make sense of them is through discourse which is socially developed. Yet our education system with its practices related to curriculum and assessment of the individual, amongst other things, so often reflects a lack of understanding of this thinking. Many of you are familiar with the phrase ‘teacher as facilitator rather than teacher as expert’. When we talk of ‘teachers as facilitators’ (or even co-learners) not as experts we are talking in this area, we are demonstrating an understanding and belief of learning that is framed within a participatory culture. By enabling that we are acknowledging that it is only through participation in the networks that any connection with knowledge is able to happen. While the term and concept of “teacher as facilitator rather than expert”  is a concept that is familiar to many of us, it is still something extremely difficult to do and I see very little evidence of it being enacted  within many of classrooms. I often think that it is to hard to make this change because of the predetermined sense of identity built up by the discourse of the institutions that govern the concept of a “teacher/student” Below is a very typical argument a teacher will throw at me at conferences, or online, or during PD sessions when I start to talk about such matters. I am making no judgement of the argument because it took me a long time to understand this fairly abstract concept, and argument is a form of active participation in the discourse. This discussion took place on a friend of mines Google + account and I have added the screen shots.

A teachers response to a bog post I had written
Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.09.03 am

My reply

Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.09.41 am

His reply to meScreen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.10.02 am My replyScreen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.10.17 am Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 9.10.30 amUnfortunately he never responded. As educators I think It is paramount that we talk about these ideas, isn’t the concept of knowledge development central to our role? Furthermore the conclusions we collectively reach will have huge implications for how we do this thing called “teaching”.

What do you think?

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5 thoughts on “Teacher as co-learner and other arguments about knowledge

  1. Great! You need to check out Howard Rheingold’s stuff- you would like it, Jo

    From: Kynan Robinson <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Kynan Robinson <comment+z_rxj0f3lhn5q02fmv9bz@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Monday, 11 August 2014 1:42 PM To: Jo O’Mara <joanne.omara@deakin.edu.au> Subject: [New post] Teacher as co-learner and other arguments about knowledge

    kynanrobinson posted: “”There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks and perceive differently than one sees is absolutely necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all” M Foucault In my line of work (my day jo”

  2. As someone who can’t iron well at all, (nor is it a skill I desire to master) I think there is a mid point between this binary like discussion. We are the sum total of our experiences, and those experiences rely on the input of others in our networks to create the opportunity of the experience and also gain the skills and understanding to make some sense of it all. (This is an iron son, its hot and flattens textile based material so the creases… errr.. de-crease”) It is the “value add” we make as a result of those experiences that is important. There are such moments that we need to feel we own (In the case a Smudge-Man responding to Kynan “No-one irons shirts my way. I am a unique iron-man!) and then hopefully give/share with others. (See above as someone taught me – and you – the rudiments of ironing shirts)
    Reflection leads to greater understanding and then ultimately opportunity for reciprocity back to that network we call life.

  3. Pingback: C.O.N.N.E.C.T.E.D | transformative LEARNING

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