Monday, February 18, 2013

Caveat Magistra/Magister: Teacher Beware

Chapter 3 in Daniel Pink's book To Sell is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others is titled "From Caveat Emptor to Caveat Venditor."

When I bought my first truck 15 years ago and again when I bought my second truck 10 years ago, I went to the dealerships without any information.  The dealer had all of the information about the trucks, and I was at their mercy.  Daniel Pink would refer to this as Caveat Emptor, buyer beware.  However, when my wife and I bought our SUV 5 years ago, I had researched the same brand from dealers around the state and had print outs of the competitors similar makes and models.  Five years ago the roles had reversed to Caveat Venditor, seller beware.  I had all of the information necessary to make an informed decision as what to buy.

When I was going through high school in the late 80's and beginning my teaching career in the early 90's, it was Caveat Discipulus, or student beware.  The teacher had all of the information and knowledge of the subject area.  Students went to school to learn this knowledge from their teacher, a textbook, and an encyclopedia.  Now let's fast forward to 2013 and it has become Caveat Magistra/Magister, teacher beware.  The roles have reversed and the student has access to as much or more information than the teacher.  The teacher is no longer the sole holder of the knowledge.

"Today's, it's possible for a motivated secondary school student with Internet access to know more about the causes of the Peloponnesian War or how to make a digital film than his teacher...Today's educators and health care professionals can no longer depend on the quasi-reverence that information asymmetry often afforded them.  When the balance tilts in the opposite direction, what they do and how they do it must change." (page 58, Loc 742, Kindle app for iPad)

I have believed for a few years that students no longer must be given Power Points to copy for 90 minutes because they have access to information, and I argue too much information.  Our responsibility as educators to to teach students what to do with all of this information.  How to find correct information, understand it, analyze it, compare it, and create an argument using the information.

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