February 27, 2006

Where do teachers learn the skills to teach autonomy?

In the Auto-L email list, someone asked this question:
I want to investigate where our teachers learn the skills needed to help students become more autonomous? It seems to me that teachers are expected to "just know" somehow without PD or training.
And someone offered the following answer:
It seems to me that Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner's _Teaching as a Subversive Activity_ offers a pretty practical objective for everyone: to learn how to ask relevant appropriate and substantial questions. Anyone who doesn't know how to do this, they say, can be kept from learning anything. To achieve this objective, they list the following traits of good learners:

1. They have confidence in their ability to learn.
2. They enjoy solving problems.
3. They know what is relevant to their survival and what is not.
4. They rely on their own judgment.
5. They are not fearful of being wrong.
6. They are not fast answerers.
7. They are flexible.
8. They have a high degree of respect for facts and distinguish statements of facts from other kinds of statements.
9. They do not need to have an absolute, final, irrevocable resolution to every problem.

To encourage these features, teachers are supposed to exhibit the following traits:
1. They rarely tell students what they ought to know.
2. They question.
3. They accept no single statement as an answer.
4. They encourage student-student interaction.
5. They rarely summarize the positions taken by students.
6. They develop lessons from the responses of students and not from a previously determined structure.
7. They design lessons which pose problems to students.
8. They measure success in terms of behavioral changes in students.
Any additions, amendments, suggestions? Is this a useful list?

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