Wednesday, January 19, 2011

At this school, when it comes to class, there's no teacher required

Recently I participated in a conversation on an unschooling discussion board and learned from one of the members that her son takes MIT's online courses. I believe he began taking these classes when he was of the age of a middle school student. I was curious and asked if it was a problem that there was no teacher. She shared there was not. In fact her son also watched Yale lectures and many of the Anneberg media videos when studying areas of interest. She explained, to learn, what was necessary was not a teacher, but rather a desire to learn. (Note: I hope to have more insights from her in a future post)

With this in mind, and with my recent post about where I shared that Bill Gates Says Tech Is The Key to Driving Down College Costs, I was not all that surprised to learn that this year, in Florida, there were virtual classrooms with no teacher. In these classes there were computers and a facilitator who basically is in the room to troubleshoot any technical issues. I don't believe this person needs to be a certified teacher. This begs the question, why are we making the students all come to a particular space to learn if it's not place-based, but that's a topic for another post.

Many of the students were not expecting to encounter such a set up and they and their parents did not view this as a pleasant surprise. So now the question becomes, if students have a desire to learn the content, do they really need a teacher? If they don't have a desire to learn the content, would it matter if they did?

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