Philosophy of Teaching Series: Postulate #6

Here is the elaboration of Postulate #6.

6. The most fruitful role a teacher of adults can play is that of guide. An adult can teach himself, but he profits from the guidance of a scholar, practitioner, or other knower.

There is nothing short of deception or misdirection that a teacher can do to keep a self-motivated and responsible student from learning. A passive or disengaged student might not get much benefit from a slack, lazy, or merely incompetent teacher, but an engaged student will need but little help to learn the subject before him. What he needs from his teacher is direction and guidance. His teacher knows the subject and how it fits within the larger network of human knowledge. He knows what is important in it and what is trivial. He can save the engaged student a great deal of time, energy, and lost effort by pointing him in the right directions. Because the teacher’s knowledge comes from a wider universe of study and thought, he can vaccinate the autodidact against the self-learner’s worst disease: the facile self assurance that often comes from isolated study and inquiry.

[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.]