Does the word 'teacher' create a barrier these days?
School of Everything have been pondering how they get across the idea that some people will learn and others will teach through the service, when the word teacher is, apparently, so loaded with negative connotations:
We want to help professional teachers advertise their services, but it's pretty clear from the general feedback that the word "teacher" also puts off many people with skills and experience to share. We think everyone has something to teach - but how many of us would call ourselves teachers? And is calling some of our members "teachers" and others "learners" just reinforcing unhelpful divisions, or respecting teachers for their skills in passing on what they know?
The balance between respect for the role and enabling learning by reducing the perceived barriers is hard to achieve. As adults we rarely refer to those who teach us how to work better as 'teacher'. We've invented a plethora of other words to avoid this: coach, mentor, facilitator...
My guess is that it shows mutual respect to use these not-teacher words, so does this mean that we use the word 'teacher' in schools to reinforce some kind of 'them' and 'us' attitude? And, having read Don and John's convincing arguments, do we really want a 'them' and 'us' approach to teaching and learning? About time, perhaps, that the organisation I work for changes its name simply to Learning Scotland.
Update: David Warlick has a nice take on this, where the differentiation is important, but with the nuance that learners are sometimes teachers, and teachers are learners.
Pic: Free like a bird