Another dot in the blogosphere?

Teacher or educator?

Posted on: September 18, 2012

YinYang by Naddsy, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  Naddsy 

Last week I reflected on the first world problem of deciding whether one was a teacher on an educator.

Judging from the hits this post received, it seems to have struck a nerve or tapped the pulse of teachers/educators.

I still think that it is important to make a distinction between a teacher and an educator as well as what each does. So I have consolidated some of my thoughts on the differences between the two.

  • Everyone can teach. Few can educate.
  • A teacher teaches; an educator reaches.
  • A teacher typically focuses on curriculum and assessment. An educator focuses on development and evaluation.
  • In the curricular race, a teacher perspires. In the journey of lifelong learning, an educator inspires. (An educator goes the extra mile.)
  • A teacher works with content. An educator deals with people.
  • Teaching is a job. Educating is a calling.
  • Some teachers do this to earn. Educators do this to learn (about themselves, their learners, better ways to inspire, etc).
  • A teacher might network locally. An educator is connected globally (and thinks and acts that way too).

Unlike the photo I used to represent the distinction and the dichotomy of my phrasing, I do not think that teaching and educating are mutually exclusive. Like the symbol, I think one blends into the other. But I do think that teachers need to aspire to be educators.

Sources of inspiration:

16 Responses to "Teacher or educator?"

[…] Wheeler’s blog Learning with the e´s  and Ashley Tan’s blog Another Dot in the Blogosphere  shed light on the issue. In reading them, I was struck by the strength of this phrase: “A […]


This is a very interesting post. It got me thinking very hard about where I place between these two distinctions. As a fully practicing kindergarten teacher, I’d like to believe that I’m an educator.


Or you might see the teacher-educator distinction more as a continuum even though I have presented it as a dichotomy. We might be anywhere between the two depending on the criterion or circumstance.🙂


You’re right. Point taken. Being an educator is not any ‘more’ superior than being a teacher. Both are vital and should be employed in the right circumstance.


Thanks for visiting and reflecting. BTW, congratulations on starting a new blog!🙂


you’re full of shit


load of old shit you’re talking there mate..out of touch with modern teaching


I agree in part. Modern “teaching” is sadly about just getting by and teaching to the test.

Modern education, on the other hand, would also focus on values and digital citizenship. It would include interactions outside the classroom on a platform such as this. It would include connecting and critiquing with substance and civility.


I have spent the day pondering such a dilemma, along the lines of “what is an educator?” I am a teacher and when asked by anyone, what do I teach, I respond, children. In your separation between the teacher and the educator you disparage the teacher with gross generalisations yet uplift the educator with glory. I doubt all your work is soley with inspiration and lacking the teacher’s perspiration. If it were it would I think it would show a detached view of any teaching and learning cycle. I do not believe this of you.

We must be careful of the labels that we attach to others and their view. I am of the opinion that educators seem to use their label to distance themselves from practices that aren’t reliable or student focussed enough. If you look at the etymology between teach and educate there isn’t a great difference.

My hope for you is to not label yourself as an educator but as someone who is trying to make a difference in the lives of all those you touch as a teacher/educator/tutor/coach/mentor or whatever. Embrace the teacher in yourself.

Teachers teach/educate/tutor/guide people. It is hard honest work to be called and work as a professional teacher whether in pre-school, junior, intermediate or high school, college or university or whatever. It doesn’t need some form of class warfare between those who want to be called educator to set themselves apart from those “in the coal-seams” who enjoy the thrill of the “Aha” moment and strive to make them happen more regularly.


On further reflection, I am a teacher and proud of it. When a student comments to me that they think I’m a good teacher, I’m thrilled because I have touched their lives. When a student down the track has done an honours degree at university in the field that I taught them in their senior highschool and that they have a successful career using the skills and knowledge that I guided them to find in themselves and they call me a teacher who believed in them. Who am I to say that no I’m not a teacher I’m an educator. To do that would be to full of nonsense and not be authentic. Surely you would agree.

My parents taught me how to do many, many things. They were not trained teachers. My children teach me many things, they are not trained teachers. As you rightly state, anyone can teach. Are they educators, no. Teachers, yes. Are their lessons worse than those provided by educators? I don’t think so because they deal with the individual, me.

I’ve just re-read your description of the difference between teacher and educator. Jim’s comment was ill-educated, Ann’s may have been closer to the mark but you have dismissed it out of hand with a perhaps ill-considered view of teaching or maybe that you took umbridge at her less that polite label of your attributes. She obviously was not pleased with your potshot at the role of teacher as I have.

I fear it is the politicians whether they be educators or bean counters that impose large curriculums on educational bodies with unreal time constraints to be assessed by formal exams set to their timeframes. No teacher would do this to their students.

I am a teacher, with your label you may or may not choose to call me an educator. That is of no real concern to me or my teaching praxis. I seek to be a better teacher through research and application. Through developing a deeper knowledge of those I engage with in the classroom.

Please don’t pour scorn on those who reject your labelling. Do be elitist to mark yourself in a different category to those who are aspirational teachers. Who aspire to be the best they can be.


Make that “don’t be…” at the start of the second sentence of the final paragraph. It’s 23.45 my time and I’m tired.


Thank you for the distinction.


[…] The most interesting difference I came across when I did my Google research was that by Dr. Ashley Tan. He synthesizes the differences into powerful bullet points that provide us with a deep insight […]


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