Nobel laureate Herbert Simon proposed that “learning results from what the student does and thinks and only from what the student does and thinks.” This is undoubtedly an overstatement and seriously undervalues the crucial role of the instructor in creating and guiding learning opportunities for students. However, Simon’s perspective appropriately highlights that learning requires active engagement of learners as they incorporate new information into pre-existing knowledge structures. Contemporary understanding of the biological basis of learning demonstrates that learning -- the ability to apply and integrate new information even after a significant period of time -- leads to demonstrable changes in the structure of the brain that do not result from the emphasis on memorization encouraged by a teacher-centric, lecture-based method. Teaching has therefore been termed “the art of changing the brain” (Zull 2002) which means that both student and teacher should accept that the classroom environment is a surprisingly intimate one!
In this workshop we will address how to create environments that promote true student learning. The specific objectives will be to:
The emphasis will, not surprisingly, be on active involvement by participants. An overarching goal is to build enthusiasm for a teaching model that shifts the role of the instructor from expert/oracle to facilitator/coach. I also hope to demonstrate that teaching this way is not only more effective for the learner, but tremendously more rewarding for the teacher as his/her relationship with students change in positive and meaningful ways.