Life-long learning does away with experts
The discussion that arose was very interesting. There appeared to be agreement amongst the participants that the concept of life-long learning has done away with the teacher as an expert - the argument being that we cannot be 'experts' as we are always learning.
Why can't educators be experts?
To be honest I am a tad unsettled by this argument. Yes, I totally agree that educators should not take the "I am an expert so you should do what I say" approach to teaching. And yes, I think we should facilitate learning. However, when I was a midwifery educator I considered myself to be an expert in some areas. I was always learning from students and I never claimed to know all there is about a subject. I used students' own expertise and knowledge. But none the less, there were times when I felt it was appropriate to take a "this is what you do" approach to presenting a topic or subject especially when teaching clinical skills.
Experts or expertise?
It was a conversation on Twitter that has helped me figure this out in a more satisfactory way. I asked what people thought about experts and teaching - and it was Andrew Hazlet who replied
I prefer "expertise" to "experts" - most knowledge isn't static or permanent
My teaching philosophy
So I am thinking that I am a facilitator of learning with an expertise in such and such subject or skill. And it has dawned on me that my teaching philosophy is similar to my midwifery philosopy - I walk around the learning (or childbirth) road with my student or client. Sometimes we walk together - sometimes I lead, and other times the student or woman leads. Sometimes we get to our destination together, other times we end up in completely different places.
Here are the slides I used on Saturday which were designed to facilitate discussion as opposed to 'teach'.
Working out the difference between online teaching and facilitation
What do you think?
Stewart, S. (2008). Women, midwives, partnership and power. Midwifery Best Practice Volume 5 (pp2-6). Ed: Sara Wickham. Edinburgh: Elsevier.
Image: 'school friends' woodleywonderworks