Paradigm Shift in Education

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Check Out the New Blog ParadigmShiftinEducation“Research is the bricks. Our informed, educated intuition is the mortar. It’s impossible to construct a worthy structure without either one.” – Dr. Michael Allen, ezine January 26, 2006

The most significant issue relating to learning is the relatively recent paradigm shift in education. This change is illustrated in the way in which curriculum is defined and technology is used. The distinct roles of teachers and learners are becoming increasingly blurred.

Education is no longer defined in terms of what a teacher will teach but rather in terms of what a student will be able to demonstrate. Thus, it is from here that instruction must work backward.

If we are to be responsible for what a student learns then it is essential that we understand WHAT a student knows before new learning begins and HOW best to build on what each student already knows.

“To learn is to change. Education is a process that changes the learner.” – George Leonard

“Our dominant paradigm mistakes a means for an end. It takes the means or method called “instruction” or “teaching” and makes it the end or purpose…. We now see that our mission is not instruction but rather that of producing learning with every student by whatever means work best.”

Principles that guide this change in learning include:

  • Student and teacher share responsibility for the quality of the student’s learning process (only indirectly and secondarily, the quality of the teacher’s teaching).
  • Core motivation, for both student and teacher, is satisfaction derived from improving the quality of each student’s learning.

Our role as teachers is to be a “guide on the side” instead of a “sage on the stage.” We have moved from an instruction paradigm, in which an instructor transfers knowledge to students, to a learning paradigm, in which a teacher’s role is that of coach. The result is a student learning how to learn and discovering knowledge with the coaching guidance of a teacher.

Note, the expression “from sage on the stage to guide on the side” comes from Alison, King, Changing College Classrooms: New Teaching and Learning Strategies for an Increasingly Complex World (Chapter 2, Inquiry as a Tool in Critical Thinking, D.F. Halpern, editor, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass 1994).

Discuss here: How do you help students take up responsibility for their own learning progress?

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