Education or Learning …Posted: July 11, 2013
The more i delve into the topic of education the more i am hearing of the same thing. Sugata Mitra talks about something similar to what Sir Ken Robinson talks about … that today’s education system, while being relevant to the economic order of the last few centuries, is not relevant to the global realities today.
In the realm of education, we need to make the distinction between teaching and learning. Teaching comes from outside, but learning is from within. This can be seen in the fact that in the same classroom, being taught by the same teacher, some students fare much better than others. Given that the teaching environment is presumably the same for all students, there must be some internal factor which makes the difference in the learning rates of different pupils.
What implications does this have for those of us in the training domain? The implication is this … the future of training is in the shift from training to learning. To achieve this future, learning professionals need to create the environment which is conducive to learning (from inside). This includes the content, the infrastructure, and more important, the frameworks which would create the motivation for unleashing the learning from within.
And what would be the role of the instructor in this scenario? The role of the instructor would be that of a facilitator who creates and manages the environment in which learners can interact with content (study), and interact with other learners (collaborate), to enable learners to explore and discover.
This is something i am seeing happening in some schools. The classroom structure when i was in school was that there were benches for the pupils, and there was separate space for the teacher, which was distinct from the space of the students. In my son’s school, i find that in the classroom, there is no separate space for the teachers, the teachers are to be found in the midst of the students, observing the discussions of the students, and guiding the exploration process.
To take an example, when introducing the Archimedes principle, the students got a homework to write a one-pager about why they think the Titanic sink. Not the right answer, mind you, but what they think is the right answer. From these essays emerged a number of stories, and eventually the students were guided to “discovery” of the Archimedes principle.
Coming back to the realm of training, the role of instructors, as i said, will be more and more that of a facilitator. If learning is from within, and of course, the trainer cannot feed learning to the learner, then it stands to reason that the only thing the trainer can do is to facilitate the process of learning, with the learner being at the centre of the learning process. These instructors can be virtual, given the spread of organizations, and the need to reach out to people across the world, and from different parts of an organization.
So what is the role of the organization in the learning process? This is simply to give the incentive, the reason for the learner to learn. Why should the learner be motivated to spend effort in the discovery process which leads to learning is the question that organizations need to answer. This means that learning, or training must be close to the centre of the organization strategy.