Home > Training and Education > When teachers become the learned

When teachers become the learned

     Up until awhile ago, I had fallen into the trap most of us do about the correlation between success and education. I mean, the more “educated” one is, the more successful, smarter or better able they are to be better than the next guy– right? We all believe humans are the top of the food chain and we are all trying to be number one in that food chain– usually at all costs!

I learned some time ago, however, that the definition of success we think we must follow most often leads us down an unhappy path of life’s dissapointments (see Oprah episodes on the Secret).

     More recently, during a Training of Trainers course, I had the opportunity to see a few videos on Behavioralism and Cognitivism that again altered my views about the rules of education, the educated and learned. I also read up on the profession of education. It seems that many different disciplines and things we do in life all come back to survival of the fitness and natural selection– things no one has to tell us, we just instinctively and do (most likely learned behavior). No matter how much one tries to out smart the natural selection theory by becoming more educated– the fact that we are actively trying to do something different to out smart the system in and of itself proves the theory of natural selection and behavioralism, cognitivism and a host of other the follow on theories itself (re-read that and try to follow me).

     In behavioralism, we “learned” provide an environment (stimulus) and expect a certain result from the “unlearned”  or organism ( response). I put the unlearned in quotations marks because we too are part of the experiment even though we may be arrogantly unaware of it!

     In cognitivism, the focus is on what happens inside the unlearned’s head– the cognitive. The idea here being that after providing the environment–they (unlearned) must figure it out (the path to a response) themselves. The behavioralist believes they alone know the only “true” response. Like royalty, it’s hard displace this way of thinking. I believe the cognitivist, in a real sense, admit that there might be another or better answer as the supposed unlearned (through natural selection) may be better equipped– atleast for his or her internal system,  to transform/evolve an even better response than earlier excepted or anticipated. Neobehavioralism, constructivist and humanist theories also “breakout” of the earlier and stiffling mindset of the arcane behavioralist still roaming the earth today (notice the analogy to dinosaurs).

     If we are open to this, we may realize that we are all in a constantly changing or evolving environment and only those who constantly change, transform or evolve with it will “survive”. We might also become better teachers or facilitators of the process of learning itself.


  1. February 22, 2011 at 6:27 am

    One’s culture, no matter how hard one tries– effects the otucome of learning encounter! Whether they can achieve the stated outcome. Culture then, in my opinion, is the focal point or the engine transformational change. After all, culture is made up of many things– education, religion, attitudes and beliefs, to name a few. You change a few of these, and the culture is impacted– that is unless the existing culture is to strong to change.

  2. July 13, 2011 at 10:25 am

    You’d think since the last post, I’d learned a lot about my craft of lecturing… I have, but not all of it is positive! I think people generally only do what they’re made to do. This is in stark contrast to what I grew up with in the U.S. Navy.
    My colleagues are often telling me this is not the navy, my unsaid reply or thought is– you’re right about that! I must resist the temptation to “go native” and succumb to the almost zombie like mentality that those seemingly without a moral compass have on the institution, its brand and stackholders… stay strong!

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