We expect teachers and schools to be objective. Yet, we demand subjectivity when a kid struggles to understand concepts. We assume knowledge is knowledge–some static, unchanging entity. So, if a kid doesn’t understand or even simply takes longer than the class is allotted to learn the concept, there’s something inherently wrong with the kid or the teacher. In reality, learning is more complicated, since “learning’s” definition in simplest terms is “to clearly grasp in the mind.” How can a student “clearly grasp in the mind” (a place that we can’t even see, yet associate with our brains), within the context of a 6 class, every 55 minutes change classrooms, 6 teachers with 6 personalities, surrounded by 35 fellow teenagers in each class–day? Or even for elementary kids, who have the energy of Eveready bunnies, with one teacher and 20-35 bodies together all day “clearly grasp in the mind”? Plus, on either side of the learning relationship–the teacher and the student–are above all human, with all the attendant human imperfections and biases. Also, knowledge itself is ever-evolving (think: Higgs-Boson particles discovery in recent days). Given all these layers all converging in the learning process–which itself is a multi-step endeavor, how can teachers and schools be objective? And, would we really want to remove the human subjectivity element to learning? What would we possibly lose in the exchange?
For more on teaching & learning, see previous posts