Thoughts from the Iatefl Conference on the Roles of Teacher and Learner

This piece of writing came abut as the product of a free writing exercise I did at a session on courageous teaching at today’s Iatefl. I decided to tidy it up and share it with you 🙂

The bright, shiny lights and colours all around us get to be too much, at times, for me to see which one to follow; which one is the flame of inner creativity and motivation that lights us up inside and which one is simply a gaudy neon sign that flashes on and off in my email box, distracting me for a few minutes before it fades. Yes, those lights are pretty too and can wow us all for a day, but then the novelty wears off and we are left wondering what all tthe fuss was about. They are like the icing on the cake, but if it is all icing with no cake we might very soon tire of it. What we want is a true inner light, that illuminates our tthinking, leading to a true sense of wonder and meaningful discovery in both teacher and learner.

We both need to make sense of the world and sense of the learning or teaching. My sense is not necessarily your sense and that is fine if we can walk along together for a while and I can show you my favourite tree, whilst you show me thte strtech of water beyond the forest, which beckons with the promise of adventure and new horizons.

Some claim that true exchane between teacher and learner are hampered by rigid rules of hierarchy, and that they cannot really exist, but this is not always true. Although hierarchy can be a daunting framework, in classrooms it often exists for a reason and needs to be established first until we all feel comfortable with each other, before we can go beyond it muting the barriers by the meaningful use of respect and the lsharing of ideas both in class, inforamlly and even,why not, through social media these days. By far the most important ingredient in the mix, though, is still, I think, communication whether on or offline. If we listen to each other and take care to try to understand the message each one of us is trying to get across then we are on the road towards understanding and reciprocal exchange. Where there is a lack of communication there can only be misunderstandong and stunted growth… definitely not education.


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