Some thoughts on teachers’ roles in the 21st century


It makes me ponder when the topic was brought up in class that teachers play the role as filter in the technology infused classroom. What are the roles of teachers in the 21st century? Since everything can be googled on the internet, and students can learn by themselves through reading textbooks on kindle. It has transformed teachers to being a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage. However, before becoming facilitators of learning, from my point of view, teachers first should take responsibility to motivate students.

The talk by Mike Wesch, Cathy Davidson, and Randy Bass gives us some insight on how to spark the interest in students to learn. Here is what I collect from the talk:

To have an informal learning atmosphere on the internet.
Help students understand why we have passion for our research.
It seems people love a sense of challenge, difficulty, and uncertainty. Something open-ended usually attracts attention.
Show them examples of pathway to successful life.
Design the curricula in a sense of purpose driven rather than content driven.

Overall, You can give your whole attention only when you care, which means you really love.  -J. Krishnamurti


13 thoughts on “Some thoughts on teachers’ roles in the 21st century”

  1. The role of teacher is changing. Teachers should not just pass the knowledge to student. Instead, they should motivate their students. I’d like to go one step further. Teachers should not even motivate student actively, but just create an environment for student to motivate themselves. I learned from the TED talk in last week’s class is that we need to take individuality of student into account. I think the effects of teacher in students’ learning should be minimized to make the student to explore their interests and abilities by themselves.

  2. After our class last week (and after the readings) I began thinking about the role of teachers as well. I agree; teachers should help motivate their students to learn. Although eliciting this engagement in students should be a goal for all teachers, I also do not think it should be completely their responsibility.
    Some students could simply rebel against the teacher, or turn away from academics due to factors outside of learning and schooling, despite the teacher’s best efforts. However, if teachers focus on “purpose” as you mention, I feel more students will find this inner drive to continue learning and education.

  3. I completely agree with you that teachers should motivate students to succeed. I would like to add to this by saying what few more things a teachers can do:
    1. A teacher plays an important role in structuring the content in such a specific way that it allows students to learn in incremental levels. teachers can also design appropriate challenges at every stage for helping students to mindfully engage in the topic.
    2. Teachers can provide feedback and clear misconceptions ad help facilitate the learning process.
    3. Teachers can help student to learn “how to learn” a particular topic.

  4. Yes, teachers are infact the facilitators of learning. Today’s students can very easily find and learn information on just about any subject matter on the internet. As future professors we need to give the students to tools to sift through and assimilate this information and more importantly to apply what is learnt in a creative way. i like the idea of the informal learning atmosphere on the internet.

  5. I couldn’t agree more with your comment on the purpose driven aspect of teaching. That should always be something we strive for in education as well as other aspects of our lives. If you can, as a teacher, convince the students what the purpose of the information is (or rather why it is important for them to know) then I would bet you’ll have more engaged students. That being said, I do think responsibility lies on the students to help themselves find purpose as well. Should the responsibility be 50/50? 60/40? I’m not sure, but definitely both parties should be striving to make learning purposeful and not just checking boxes off of the content list.

  6. The role of the teacher is constantly in flux. The teacher ought to be flexible to meet the needs of the students. The teacher should also be able to encourage their students to unplug and have facilitate discussion.

  7. Exactly! As they said too: when a teacher can be replaced by a computer screen he should be. The teacher’s main job should be to motivate and stimulate the students in ways that computers would never be able to do.

  8. While I agree that it is the role of the teacher to get the students motivated to want to learn about the material, I think there might be a bigger underlying problem that hinders this. We have all taken a course where the teacher does the bare minimum, rarely interacts with students, or just seems completely out of tune with the class. So my questions is, how can we expect students to be motivated to learn the material, when we have some teachers that seem like they don’t even want to be teaching that class? I know every teacher is not going to be the perfect instructor, so I think finding ones that are passionate about the courses they teach is like a rare gem (and generally classes that many students wants to take). So I think that allowing teachers to teach courses that they feel excited about, can indirectly ignite curiosity and motivate our students as well.

  9. I completely agree. I find that educators have a responsibility to motivate students and encourage critical thinking. I find that purpose driven, focusing on the end goal and the consequences, and incorporated that with real life examples of failure or success stories are crucial components in today’s teaching methods. Also, there are lot of information out there but which information is actually relevant and applicable to a particular problem or issue is a challenging task. Teachers should make the student aware of such challenges and help them be prepared to critically think and innovate from the pool of information available.

  10. There are so many roles a great teacher could potentially take on, but usually on an extremely limited salary. I think the ideas mentioned above are hopeful, inspired and grand… but I also think we must devote time to understanding why these standards have not previously been met in higher education. Many are drawn to a career in higher education because they love research and writing. Many universities (specifically land-grant universities) will not higher a professional researcher without requiring this individual to also take on a significant teaching appointment. I agree teachers should be passionate about teaching, but how can we ensure that unwilling individuals are not unceremoniously pushed into these appointments to make tenure?

  11. This is where I’m grateful I teach a subject I love. I often get so bogged down in my own theory reading as a graduate student that, far from being just another thing on my plate, my teaching Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies this semester has reminded me why I love this stuff!
    Ido agree that we have to reconceptualize the notion of teacher. I was petrified when I first knew I would have to teach. Thanks to another program I’m involved in, I realized it’s not my job to make students learn, but rather to try and be of maximum service to them everyday. In this way I don’t have to know it all, and I often don’t. I can be humble about my shortcomings and use the knowledge of the students studying different subjects if I get stuck in a lecture somewhere. (I think it also helps that WGS is interdisciplinary and requires me to know a little about a lot of subjects)!

  12. Exacting purpose of learning may limit students from learning things outside what has been prescribed. A re-think is needed here.

  13. Sinto grande gratidão a Deus por me presentear com a felicidade de aproveitar a era desse site , onde
    posso aproveitar tudo o que desejo, Estou realmente surpreso com a qualidade de suas postagens constantes.
    Você realmente é um gênio, me sinto abençoado por ser um leitor regular de um blog assim. Parabéns pelo conteúdo. Agradeço seu trabalho, e sempre vou compartilhar
    esse conteúdo.

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