Monday, January 31, 2011

Can We Adopt a Master/Apprentice Approach to Learning?

In this post I make a lot of assumptions about your belief of the role of teachers education. 

Assumption one: You want students to become master learners. 

Assumption two: You are or are working to become a master learner.

Assumption three: You model learning to your students.

The master/apprentice model has been around much longer than the factory educational model we have been using and, it might be argued, been much more successful. The basis of this model is the master has a specific set of skills. He then contracts with the apprentice to teach him these skills in return for the apprentice working for the master. 

If we apply the master/apprentice model to learning, what would it look like? Obviously we would have fewer students and spend much more time with them. We would be focused on teaching them learning skills that help them develop into master learners. We would model learning for them and encourage them to follow by example.

Just as the master printer controls what content the apprentice prints, the master learner would control the way learning skills are imparted. Just as the apprentice printer spends free time creating their own content, the apprentice learner would spend his/her free time learning what he/she chooses to learn. 

Could schools be re-purposed to this end? Could a teacher take on the role of a master learner, take on a small group of apprentices (very probably of varying ages)? Can teachers as master learners help create master learners from their apprentices?