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What is the point of teachers?

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Zofia Pawlaczek
25 October 2010

I always wonder what is the point of teachers? Given that, then, Prosser's essay is only ever about the procrastination of teaching!

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Bernadette Knewstubb
8:29am 26 October 2010 (Edited 8:33am 26 October 2010)

I know this is slightly off-track from your comment, Zosh, but what struck me first was the order of the conceptions Prosser refers to in the 2000 paper. If E is "improving student learning within the discipline generally by collecting and communicating results of one’s own work on teaching and learning within thediscipline.", does that mean that staying focused only inwardly on our discipline is more sophisticated than looking beyond, to see what might lie outside? Is there a conception missing that involves looking both inwardly and outwardly to improve learning for those inside and outside our discipline? Is the idea something of a parallel to Entwistle's "the verb to learn takes the accusative" - where learning is always the learning of something? So that teaching (and the research of teaching) is always the teaching of something? If so, what implications does that have for the 'generic' vs 'discipline' research/ac dev question?

Zofia Pawlaczek
5:04am 27 October 2010

Hi Bernadette, well, it's not really off track as Prosser encourages us to accept the primacy of the teacher and the teacher's experience as the core activity in the scholarship of teaching and learning.  By asking, "why do we need teachers?" - Just as Ivan Illich did in his De-Schoolong Society, it makes us explore the myriad journeys that make up learning.  Often, a "teacher" type of role is informal.  In fact, much contemporary teacher education has explored ideas around facilitation as a core condition of student-centred approaches in learning.  And so, if teachers are encouraged to be unimposing and to negotiate learning responsibility onto students then do we in fact need teachers? And is the scholarship of that activity, in contemporary terms, a little fraught?

Also, if teachers are only to look inwardly at their teaching then the macro influences that are written into curricula, like ideology - let's name corporatism, internationalization, life-long learning, widening participation as just a few - will no doubt be ignored as teachers literally have no time for challenging or questioning power-driven ideology, or even institutional procedures that impose themselves on a teaching environment.  By only looking inwardly we will miss, entirely, the key drivers of curricula.  Prosser's view that scholarship is in situ, with the teacher and their experience, ignores too many variables . . . including that teachers often need an outside view of what they are doing - and that this view should not take the form of audits only.

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