My high school-aged son recently put forth the proposition that we really don’t need schools anymore. His teen logic pointed out that, “You can teach yourself anything, just go to the library or go online.”
There is some truth to this perspective. More and more, schools, universities, and corporations are putting the onus of learning on the student and the employee. As technology grows and budgets remain tight, we will continue to see more of this growing trend toward self-study. Some of the greatest contributing factors to this growth are cost savings and bandwidth. With self-study learning technology, you can reach a global audience more quickly and inexpensively than traditional classroom training and instruction.
So, why do we need teachers, trainers, and professors?
The answer? Teachers, trainers, and professors provide a framework for learning. They provide context to source materials and reference points within subject matter. Educators help validate and sift through quality source materials, weeding out the poorer, less scholarly works. If you don’t think that’s important, just Google “The Revolutionary War” and see how much information and misinformation comes up.
It’s one thing to send someone to a library and tell him or her, “All you need to know is here, just find it.” It’s quite another thing to guide someone through a learning experience, asking provocative questions, creating dialogue, and discovering new ways to interpret the meaning of things. This is what a good educator does. They are the Sherpa Guides on the journey of education, providing the structure and framework required for critical thinking.
Whether we realize it or not, learning is an ongoing process, not an event. Since childhood, the best educators have inspired us to learn, providing us with the tools, techniques, and methodologies to do one thing effectively – think.
For the record, when I searched “How to Think” on YouTube.com, all I got was an advertisement for Aqua Uno Tub Doors, a cult leader’s video, and some instruction on how to get rid of Vampirism in Skyrim.