Teaching vs Learning – not necessarily connected

Two insights came today while in Mumbai.

I was given a book by Anant Nadkarni (my friend from Tata who is VP for Group Corporate Sustainability) called ‘Power & Love’ by Adam Kahane.

The first insight had no direct connection to the topic but was the tangential realisation when given the book that in the debate about enabling people to learn rather than just teaching (transferring knowledge), Teacher is the grammatical ‘subject’ whereas Learner is the ‘object’. We are familiar with the simple description that ‘Teachers teach students’ – basically they tell you stuff, but we have no equivalent concise phrase for who does what with Learners. ‘Enablers enable Learners’, maybe? It doesn’t exactly cascade off the tongue does it? ‘Enablers learn Learners’ would be a new way of saying it where the verb describes the object rather than the subject – if it didn’t sound so uneducated! You see, the ‘teachers’ have basically got it all sown up.

And that is a problem for those of us who believe enabling learners is the most effective way of educating, ie. ‘pull rather than push’. There seems to be no concise acceptable way to describe it. Any ideas?

John Knights

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