The teachers that have made the greatest impression on me and my direction of study have been those who learn alongside us students. The power-directing, control orienting, “look at me up here” teachers are usually the type we fail to recall much, perhaps with some exception.
Ken Robinson and Michael Wesch echo this sentiment through their respective attitudes on the dearth of real learning. I took to heart Michael Wesch notion of the ‘significance problem’ and watched his disheartening video “A Vision of Students Today”, showing us the all-to-often harsh reality of the contemporary student’s attitude towards learning in universities. Both Robinson and Wesch are asking us to put purpose, teleologically driven mindsets back into classroom management and teaching.
Wesch, for example, takes Mashal McLuhan’s notion of the “medium is the message” as a means to reify learning instead of simply conveying information. One way to assess the success of this so called “Simulation Method” is to see the quality of students questions. Since Wesch is not “teaching” in the traditional sense mentioned above, he describes his style as akin to a type of “anti-teaching”. He states, “I am in the wonderful but awkward position of not knowing exactly what I am doing but blissfully learning along the way [with his students]. My job becomes less about teaching and more about encouraging students to join me on their quest” (last page, second to last paragraph). Thus, by making ourselves a student alongside our students, stating from the first class that “I too am learning alongside you!” will create an environment of humility towards knowledge and life that is necessary for learning. And everyone learns, even if they do not go to school.
Wesch is willing to take the risks that Robinson lays out in his speech to instill a sense of curiosity and learning about “how the world works”. Would we be willing to take such risks as teachers, fearing student responses, the position of our tenure-ship, inter-departmental politics, funding, and a university administration that seems to perpetuate the dullness of learning? There are simply too many political impediments that make such risks possible. Just as students want to get credit and get out, university administration seem to believe the same. Is a revolution in teaching, thus, necessary from the ground-up or top-down? Help me think this through!