The Trends and Roles assignment was a valuable learning experience. I teach in a formal learning situation while Peter, my learning partner, teaches in the workplace. This different perspective of the two subjects was very instructive.
New Insights: Role of the Teacher
At our initial meeting, Peter and I chose to investigate facilitation as a role of the teacher. My research helped me to see the importance of incorporating this role in my own teaching. I am intrigued with the idea of stepping away from the director position and facilitating a class environment of trust and openness where everyone is the learner. In our web-conference, I gave an example of directing discussion with my Gitxsan students about the pros and cons of their Nation negotiating a land-treaty. As a non-Native, I am not the expert, but I can guide my students to explore the topic so they are able to take a personal position on this issue. Peter wisely commented that while facilitators do not take the position of expert, they nonetheless must be knowledgeable. He had just come back from a job-site course at the Spokane Fire Department, and they had developed the courses out of necessity for no one was teaching the required information. While reflecting about the experience, Peter indicated that he realized that those instructors were professional facilitators. Peter also indicated that he had realized that he teaches primarily through facilitation. I personally wonder if facilitation works all the time in a formal classroom like mine, but I certainly plan on beginning to incorporate this concept on a more regular basis.
Trends in Education
The need for more skilled workers was a trend that appealed to both of us. I picked a report from the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OCED). The authors of this report accessed numerous studies about adult employment, and they concluded that employment rates and income of the low-educated are much lower than those of the higher-educated. A different perspective was again found in the discussion between myself and my learning partner. Peter is involved in on-the-job training, while I work in a facility that provides formal education (academic courses) and informal (first aid, Food Safe, etc.) training. We agreed that this issue is an important trend that educators, employers, and employees alike must be concerned about. Related to this, we also discussed the issues of low-literacy and numeracy rates and how this affects an adult’s ability to take further training and write exams. We agreed that this is an important issue. Formal institutions must strive to improve literacy and numeracy levels as they partner with industry and governments to develop on-going education and training for adult workers.
The initial web-conference with my learning partner was stilted and difficult, for neither of us was fully comfortable with the medium. However, our longer meeting was valuable and more relaxed. We reflected that each of us was uncomfortable with the blogging component of this assignment, but we also agreed that we were determined to prevail at all cost. The research that I conducted for this component was instructive and thought-provoking. I know that my learning partner positively challenged me to think outside of the “formal-learning” box. His experiences and challenges helped me to understand that there are many ways of teaching/learning, and Peter helped me see the needs of industry and government work-sites. Life-long learning was a recurring theme in our web-conference, and we each agreed that it will be an important component for the years to come.