“I’m not an educator, but…”
Posted April 3, 2017on:
I get worried every time I hear that phrase right before a non-educator goes on to tell others why he or she is right.
I have heard this more often than I like, but two examples stand out.
One was at a conference where a university administrator misappropriated Bloom’s Taxonomy. That person started with “I am not a lecturer or professor, but…” and continued with “I found out about Bloom’s Taxonomy and think that all of them should use it to…”.
What was alarming was not that BT could be used as a scaffold — it is great as a guide — but that it become a procedural and step-like crutch.
Another was at a seminar where a professor started with “I do not have a teaching background nor am I aware of education research, but…” and then tried to convince the audience that the strategy worked.
What was alarming in that case was not whether the strategy was viable. It was not being able to explain why beyond metrics like improved participation.
Even more alarming was the attempt to play to the audience who were mostly from non-education backgrounds. The professor discounted the importance of theory by celebrating the low-hanging fruit of “what works” instead of raising the standards and expectations of teaching faculty.
The problem with “what works” in one context is that it does not necessarily transfer to another. That particular example was extreme because the professor had the expertise to custom-create a specific LMS-like environment around his content and preferences.
Drawing on larger learning theory, be it a form of problem-based learning or flipped learning, builds on or provides questions for that theory. It strengthens practice by providing theory as structure for critical reflection and improvement.
Those of us in the educational arena can learn a lot from those who operate outside it. There might be legitimate statements that follow “I’m not an educator, but…”. However, there are few that have not raised my eyebrows or heckles. After all, would you get medical or legal advice from someone who said, “I’m not a doctor/lawyer, but…”?
I took both these individuals to task as nicely and politely as I could. I did this even though I might come across as being negative. My rationale was simple: If no one was going to be the watchdog, then anyone could walk through the gate. I was not going to sit idly by.
So beware if you show me your “but”. I might just bite it.