04 febrero, 2011

The difference between learning and teaching

When I was studying pedagogy twenty years ago, teaching and learning were a single word, single concept. Then, years later, I found out that these words weren’t inseparable. Now, everything is about learning and, according to some people, it has very little, or even nothing, to do with teaching.
Gee! I wouldn´t be so sure about that. Let me explain myself. Let’s think for a moment that learning is like eating. (I know the analogy doesn’t quite make it, but let’s think it does.) So, imagine that learning is about eating
tacos de cochinita pibil. You could eat these tacos standing up with hundreds of flies buzzing around you in any mercado of the incredibly hot Mérida, Yucatán; picture yourself aside a very crowded street with noisy buses passing by, smog everywhere and, because of the heat, you’re sweating buckets. But, you could also be eating the exactly same tacos in Las Mañanitas, the beautiful and fancy restaurant located in Cuernavaca, Morelos, enjoying great weather, in a wonderful garden with water fountains and framed by colorful bougainvilleas, listening to the birds sing, watching all kinds of animals walking around you. Wow! Now, add to the list that you’re sharing your tacos with the person you love the most, you are wearing your favorite clothes, and, by the way, you’re looking pretty good. You are relaxed and happy to be alive. Would those tacos taste the same? Maybe, but the experience -for sure- would be different.
So, if learning is about eating tacos, teaching is about enriching the whole experience of it, making it way, way better, by creating a thought-provoking, eye-opening, motivational and mind-blowing environment. As educators, we can nourish the learning experience with sounds, images, textures, colors, gestures, words and feelings. And, most important, if learning is about making connections, it is about interacting… how about sharing the whole experience?

14 comentarios:

  1. Veronica,
    Thanks for your perspective! I trust that your overall point is that it is teaching by way of connectivism that most enhances the learning experience! Learning without being connected is still learning, but connected learning is learning-squared!

  2. Veronica, thanks for the post, and especially for the eating metaphor. I've been playing with that metaphor myself on my own blog in an attempt to explore how connective meaning, teaching, and learning work together. You remind us that we are not doing away with teachers, even within our PLNs; rather, we are simply redefining the respective roles of teachers and students, I think. They are both learners, one just a bit more experienced in some field than the other.

  3. Hi, TM,
    You totally got it!
    Thank you for your nice comment :-)


  4. Hi, Keith,
    I appreciate very much your comment and your pertinent observation. I haven't read your blog, but I will... so get ready for my comments ;-)


  5. Hi Veronica,

    Great post, clever, creative, and connective - in a way that would make sense to George Lakoff, namely, nothing happens outside of context, nothing is isolated. Thank you for giving me a ton of ideas for my classes with my students. By the way, do you teach English? I teach English as a foreign Language in Chile.

    Nice meeting you. Have a lovely weekend,


  6. Hi Verónica. Maybe the difference (20 years vs now) is that then education was teacher centered and now it's student centered. And, as you said, the teacher's rol is to enriched, facilitate, motivate curiosity, inspire and challenge. Yet a very challenging and rewarding task. Greetings, William

  7. Hi, Tom,
    Thank you for your comment, I'm happy to know that you like it and that it is of some use.
    I used to teach English as a foreign language, and I also taught Spanish to foreigners (a dream job). Now, I just finished my master of Education and I'm working on my thesis.
    Nice meeting you too :-)
    Kindest regards,

  8. mmm quiero tacos de cochinitaaaaa!!! y en Mérida ;-)

    I think this is connected with the discussion in the CCK11 group at facebook on:
    "What is the definition of Formal learning, Nonformal learning, Informal learning and Self-directed learning?"
    Your metaphore's worry is on the HOW... but how about the WHAT? Is tacos de cochinita (mmmm again!) the WHAT, something static?

  9. El proceso de ensenanza aprendizaje actualmente seguira modificandose y haciendose mucho mas personal. Ademas al integrar las herramientas de la Web 2.0 y Web 3.0 los cambios seran mas continuos ya que el aprendiz tendra mayor dominio del proceso.
    Asi que la experiencia sera transformadora y continua.

  10. Hola Gaby,
    Well, everything is connected, right?
    About the WHAT and using my same analogy (despite its limitations), tacos are not static, they change the moment we put them in our mouths. Likewise, knowledge -of course- is not static (it couldn't be).
    Thanks for your comment :-) and, by the way, los mejores tacos de cochinita y lechón se comen en el mercado grande de Mérida, a un lado del edificio de correos (mi mamá es yucateca).

  11. Hola Mayra,
    "Nada es permanente excepto el cambio", y, como bien señalas, debemos esperar más modificaciones; no obstante, también debemos trabajar para que estas experiencias transformadoras lleguen a más y más personas, sin importar su condición económica, social, étnica, cultural, etc.
    Gracias por tu comentario :-)

  12. I had a teacher who taught history using the same set of notes for decades. Officially he died of Alzheimer's disease. I think he died of boredom.

    Enthusiastic, engaged teachers make exciting memorable tacos. Disengaged, dispirited teachers desperately need some spark to bring them to life. Hopefully by connecting with others, their classroom won't feel like a prison for themselves and those they teach.

  13. Hi, Ruth,
    I like your comment. Yes, unforgettable tacos come from happy, energetic, and engaged teachers :-)

    Bon apetit!


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