Philosophy of Teaching Series: Postulate #4

Here is the fourth elaboration in this series.

4. The ultimate burden of learning is on the learner, if he or she is an adult, and shared by teacher, learner, and parent if the learner is a child, but only until such time as the learner becomes a responsible adult.

There are, of course, a million and one realities that complicate the assumption of responsibility on the part of the learner. If he is young, adulthood is exciting but often problematic. For any of us, arriving at fully responsible maturity requires a journey of some decades, and we bring along with us lots of heavy baggage. In our modern-industrial-bureaucratic-technological world, all are tempted to externalize whenever we can: “it’s not my fault, it’s the system.” “I’d do a better job if . . . .” “No one told me I needed that.” And so forth. At any given moment, any reason for failure that sounds suspiciously like an excuse might be valid and unavoidable. In the long run, though, it is still up to each person–each learner–to carry the burden of his own education. He may have to set it down occasionally to rest. He may need help from his teachers or his fellows. But ultimately, it is his responsibility.

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[Here is the original article, “My Philosophy of Teaching” (opens in new window).  For all the articles in this series, click on the Teaching Philosophy link below or under Categories to the right.]