Education: Learning and not Teaching

Education: Learning and not Teaching

by The Content Team
on July 23, 2021

Have you ever wondered about the practical uses of many topics that you were asked to learn by your teacher as part of your course curriculum? There were many such topics like the square or cube root of a number, memorizing the periodic table, calculating SIN/COS/TAN for trigonometry, etc. 

All these topics illustrate the flaws in our formal education approach that focuses on teaching, not learning. In formal education, there is a structured curriculum and educators teach students. These students might not be interested in what they are being taught, but they study and memorize to pass the exams. In this scenario, they have received an education, they have not learned properly. 

In today’s blog, I will discuss an important point that the objective of education should be learning. Just like a child learns fundamental things like walking, talking, eating, and so on without being taught these things, adults too learn things that they use at work or at personal life. Education should be focused around learning, and not what a teacher wants students to learn.  

The objective of education should be learning, not teaching

Learning refers to a life-long process of acquiring new knowledge, skills, values, or behaviour. This can be done via various means such as studying or teaching or training or experience. In simple terms, learning is a life-long continuous process where we see things, we observe them and then learn something new through our experiences in our daily life. The person who is learning is actively changing through their “experiences” and adjusting to the surrounding environment. Learning causes change, and change causes learning.

Learning causes change, and change causes learning.

There are different ways of learning, and teaching is only one of them. The teacher should act as a guide, but not as one who force-fed course content into students’ minds. We learn many things in life on our own, in independent study or play while interacting with others. We also learn a lot by doing, through trial and error. Teachers should act as enablers in our learning journey. 

Unfortunately, our current education system focuses on teaching, where it is assumed that whatever is being taught by teachers is learned by the students. But this is not the case as the majority of what is taught in classroom settings is forgotten, and much or what is remembered is irrelevant or impractical. In the formal education system, memorization is mistaken for learning. Majority of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, and is forgotten quickly as long as it serves the purpose of passing an exam. 

One way where teaching can be a powerful tool for learning is “The Explanation Effect – Teach what you Learn!”, a topic on which I had earlier written about. Research shows that when we learn with the intention to teach, we learn more deeply and efficiently. Teaching reveals gaps in our knowledge and understanding. Thus forcing us to think, fill those gaps and make us accountable to apply what we learn. This process also gives us valuable feedback from others, and helps us refine our learning. Thus, the Explanation Effect approach of teaching ensures that students not only receive an education, but they have also learned properly. 

While the current education system focuses mainly on standardization using teachers and pre-set curriculum for all students, we should renew our focus towards what the learners want to learn. When we prioritize learning over teaching as the objective of education, learners will drive the process and teachers will act as a guide to help these students. 

Anand Damani

CEO, Examination Online

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