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Student-teachers and teacher-learners

What if students were to teach, while the teacher is guiding them on their road of discovery?

Photo of Alexandra Tiganas
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I am a.....

  • Teacher

Tell us about your idea

The idea of children discovering the world on their own is not new (from JJ Rousseau all the way to Jean Piaget), but the reality is that there is not enough time in the life for this to happen in a meaningful way. But instead of letting the children discover the world unaccompanied, we could provide them with trained guides, who would only help them focus by asking the right questions, thus training them for a life of exploration and learning. This guides could be trained teachers not of a discipline, but of learning. Their expertise would be in making sure that children cover the basics of the subject they are exploring, by asking probing questions, by testing the premises of their thinking, by pushing them to structure the knowledge they are discovering/constructing on their own. 

Children will still go to school, but they will be expected to teach each other and the teacher's role will be to become one of the learners, with the only added benefit of critical thinking and system thinking skills. Children will take turns and explain, demonstrate, explore subjects, relying on tools and support available to them online and off-line. There will still be classes, there will still be subjects of study, but there will be no more lecture from an all-knowing adult standing in front of the class, imparting knowledge to the "young ones".

This doesn't mean that children will leave school without knowing the basics, it only mean they will be expected to know how to find things out, how to ask for help and guidance and how to evaluate the result of their inquiry. And, on top of everything, they will know how to explain and defend their knowledge in from of others. 

What part(s) of the pre-COVID school system do you wish to leave in the past? Why?

The teacher who is a master of the subject should be a thing of the past. The idea that knowledge is fixed and it belongs to selected few should be a thing of the past. The power yielded by the teacher over the children should be a thing of the past. What needs to replace them is fostering responsibility for their own education, which can be achieved by giving children a bigger role in it.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to share this idea.

I have made a mid-career switch from media to education. The more I learn about education, the more I am amazed on how flawed our perceptions are and how much we tend to try and repeat the errors of the past. If I can inspire someone to, at least, make different mistakes by trying to teach the youth, my time will not have been spent in vain.

What region are you located in?

  • Europe

Where are you located?

I live in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and I am a doctoral student at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences at the University of Bucharest. I am 50+, which makes as old as the parents of most of my colleagues, but this only makes me more determined.


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