11 Comments

  1. Michele Paredes

    What is meant by architect of learning? Are you referring to planning & having a long term goal when teaching? I understand the sage and the guide, I was just wondering what was meant by architect.
    I love all your posts & look forward to them each week. Thank you for your insight. Your inspire me, and you inspire my teaching practices.

    • George

      I think when I use the term “architect” it is in connection with not only the experience that is created in the classroom, but the environment and energy as well.

  2. Nancy

    Not sure why I am so uncomfortable with the thought of being in the middle. It makes me think of not taking a stand or using any innovative practices which is not what you described. When I think of you I think learner centered. You promote giving the learner what she needs, regardless of which side the instructional.practice comes from. As the young adults in my life have been saying “why do you have to be so binary?”

    • George

      Your comment really helped me…I think the whole reason I am working with these ideas in my head is BECAUSE the focus is on what the learner needs in front of you. Sometimes, traditional practice might be the best in that moment, or sometimes an iteration or invention of some new process is what is needed. I think that is where I am going but I think your comment helped me understand why. Does that make any sense? I am still working this idea out in my head.

  3. Add “Meddler in the Middle” it’s a term coined by Erica McWilliams who talks about those moments when you’re learning WITH your students and are as curious and ignorant as they are. When we talk about “real world” or “authentic” learning this should happen more often. Also your blog is nice.

  4. Charles Martin

    George, your blog post is an important reminder that there is no panacea to solving complex issues. Like a good carpenter that has a range of tools available to accomplish a task, teachers have a large arsenal of strategies available to them. There is no such thing as a magic bullet that solves all of our educational challenges. The key is to remain open-minded, flexible and to always be reflective about our daily practices. We should be proud of our efforts, without ever becoming complacent. We should aim to innovate, without dismissing old practices that still have value today. The beauty of teaching is that the solutions are usually not straight forward. This is what makes it exciting and stimulating. Simple would be to work on an assembly line and repeat the same process over and over. That is not what teaching is all about. Teaching is creative. Teaching is an art.

  5. HI George. Most often your posts resonate strongly with me. This one really got me going!

    I am a Secondary School principal (before in Egypt and now in Colombia) and moving into a school director role and grappling with our board´s forward moving focus on 21st Century Learning which I wholeheartedly support but do not want to completely shift away from practices that have brought success to the school for the past 80 years AND I see the success of our Blended Learning, as well, in the past 5 years.

    So, I am right there with you! I used to teach history and I taught the same subject as the teacher next door to me with 30 years of experience. He was the ¨sage on the stage¨, I was the new kid on the block using Learning Styles for Collaborative grouping and interactive slide lectures, etc. Our test scores were virtually identical, year after year. He was a master lecturer and it worked well (so well that I learned a lot from him and, in the process, he started observing me, also… a lifelong learner!). So… I think the key here is not the innovative/new versus traditional instructional strategies. It is focus, mindset and doing what makes sense for learners based on what we can identify as their needs. Risk-taking, learning from failure, differentiation… these are not new ideas. The 4Cs… plus a few others, are essential for our students as our world rapidly changes before our eyes but how we get there is more about providing a fair opportunity with practices that make sense within our context. I am firmly convinced that a clear focus on goals (for students and teachers) and a growth mindset is what sets us up for success. For me, using the old and the new (that we can show really do help students learn) makes sense.You said you find yourself in the middle on views in education right now but it seems to me you are really just talking about the instructional strategies. Other views on education (that you have written about before) that promote innovation, agility / flexibility, perseverance and a growth mindset are not reliant on ¨new¨ or ¨old¨ instructional strategies. Along those lines, we can all be ¨centrists¨ when it comes to using what works but we can still stay firmly on the innovative side of education. Does that make sense?

    Great food for thought! Thank you.

  6. I agree with Nancy….for some reason we see ourselves as needing to be defined as one or the other. Reflecting on the best teachers I know, they are a mixed bag that keeps students on their toes with so many different techniques to reach children. One factor is constant among all of them, their classroom looks and feels like a community of learners with respect among everyone. Just like Charles mentioned, there is no quick fix or approach that is going to magically make everything magnificent…..no matter the alliteration.

  7. I appreciate your thoughts on this post. I think we often, in the world, in America, and in education, often over-generalize and place everything in these black and white silos. So often the world is actually grey and is a combination of a variety of tools that are chosen based on what the learner needs, what the content highlights, and what society needs in future citizens. We could all use a little more balance in our approach, rather than the “all or nothing” as you mentioned.

  8. Courtney Cohron

    This to me, is what personalized learning is all about. When we personalize learning experiences for students to meet them where they are at, in all moments of learning, it is then we land upon the sweet spot of education.

  9. Aloha George,
    yes! I agree with this idea. I feel like education is constantly on this pendulum that keeps swinging back and forth between these ideas. Another examples, let’s standardize education across the board versus lets personalize education.

    I agree that good teaching exists in the middle of all of these things and that masterful teachers are able to move in and out of these different approaches to best match the needs of their students.

    Part of this constant debate is the search for “the silver bullet” that’ll magically fix education. Most educators know that this magic bullet doesn’t exist and that good teaching and learning is an ongoing, often messy process.

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