Traditionally, learning has been meaningful for individuals. In older societies people learnt things by apprenticing themselves to somebody who knew about it, or actually going out into the world and finding out about it themselves.
However, following the industrialisation of our society, schools developed to serve big groups of people - mostly for economic reasons - and the idea of delivering a homogenous set of learning to a homogenous group of learners, who would all react the same way to it, emerged.
People came to believe that teachers did something, said something, demonstrated something to the class and everybody got it. It was as though students were nothing more than empty vessels, waiting to be filled up with whatever kind of knowledge and skills were appropriate to meeting the needs of the workforce of the day.
We recognise that everybody is different. Everybody learns at different speeds. Everybody has different motivations. Different points of reference. Different knowledge. Different aspirations. And so we’re always going to learn as individuals within the larger social group.
Every learner’s journey is one that is personal to them, and our challenge is to identify what it is about each individual learner that helps them learn better and then tailor our teaching to that learner.
In moving towards this ideal we view our role as being leaders of students’ learning experiences, rather than simply teaching stuff to young people. Because education is a social phenomenon, significant amounts of learning is done in groups, but the learning itself is a personal experience.
Our goal is to know the learners: know what they know, and what they don’t know; know what they need to do to get to the next stage or level. We then give them the tools and resources and equipment that they need to make the next steps.
In this way our learners become independent, self-regulating learners, who are not reliant on the teacher, but know how to use the teacher as a resource to achieve what they need to achieve.