Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Who to blame

“When you point a finger at another person, you are pointing three finders at yourself.”
——Kirkpatrick, 2005

This means in education that when a teacher is blaming a student for not learning, he/she should criticize his/herself at first. There is an old saying that, if the learner hasn't learned, the teacher hasn't taught.

This actually brings me a controversy...

I believe that learners are the subject of learning. Learning is the change happens within learner's mind. Learners take the initiative. So learning largely depends on learner's inner activity. This tells us as instructors to be learner-centered, to pay strong attention to learner's feature, style, condition of the time, etc. 
In this respect, instructor plays a less important role. The instructor is to motivate, facilitate, and mentor learner's learning, never can he/she control the learning process.
However, I also agree with Kirkpatrick's words. Whenever learning is not successful, there should be some problem with the instruction, either inappropriate presentation of materials, or inadequate motivation, or something else. (Here must be some hypothesis, for example, instruction should have an effect on learning. But I don't want to test it...) 
Then here comes the question. Now that learners take initiative in learning, why can't we blame learners for not learning? What if the teacher has made every effort to motivate, provide facilities, and provide help but still no learning occurs? If the instructor takes all the responsibility, what about the learner?


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