The Trends and Roles assignment was a valuable learning experience. I teach in a formal learning institution, while Peter, my learning partner, teaches in the workplace. This different perspective of the two subjects was very educational.
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, teacher and student, is a learner. In our web-conference, I gave an example of directing discussions 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, They had developed the courses out of necessity for no one was teaching the required information. In his reflection on the experience, Peter indicated that he realized that those instructors were professional facilitators. Peter also indicated that he teaches primarily through facilitation. I personally wonder if facilitation is the best choice all of the time for a formal classroom like mine, but I certainly plan on incorporating this concept into my teaching on a more regular basis.
Trends in Education
The need for more skilled workers was a trend that appealed to both Peter and myself. I found a report from the Organization for Economic and Cooperative Development (OECD). 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 our web-conference discussion. Peter is involved in on-the-job training, while I work in a facility that provides formal education (academic courses) and informal job readiness training. We agreed that this issue is an important trend that educators, employers, and employees alike must be concerned about. This is very important as the oldest Baby Boomers are set to retire in 5 years, taking their knowledge and expertise with them. Related to this topic, we also discussed the issues of low-literacy and numeracy rates and how this affects an adult’s ability to take training and write required exams. We agreed that this is an important issue. Formal educational institutions have a responsibility to improve literacy and numeracy levels as they partner with industry and government to develop effective on-going education and training for adult workers.