Monthly Archives: February 2020

Teaching Does Not Guarantee Learning and Can Never Guarantee Learning

Something which professional teachers, no matter how competent, accountable and responsible they are, can not do in good faith is to guarantee that students will achieve some set of intended learning outcomes. Nor is it reasonable to expect and/or demand guaranteed achievement of a range of knowing by students from teaching. Lawyers can not responsibly and in good faith guarantee that they will win their clients’ cases. Medical practitioners can not responsibly and in good faith guarantee that their patients will be cured of their illnesses. Practicing law, practicing medicine and practicing teaching are transactive activities, not reactive activities. Push a rock off a cliff, and it falls, every time, without exception. Add sodium to water, and the results are heat, sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas, every time, without exception. Place a bowl of water in sunlight on a warm summer’s day, and the water evaporates, every time, without exception. These are invariant, mindless reactions. Transactions are mindful, and the outcomes are variable. The parties involved in the transactions of law, medicine and education have conation, perception and cognition, and, for their own reasons and motivations, they choose to go in one direction or another. Like lawyers and medical practitioners, teachers can offer what is currently understood as best practice in the provision of opportunities to study and learn intentionally under guidance. It is the choice of those playing the role of student to accept the opportunities, to complete the study activities and to endeavor to achieve the intended range of knowing, i.e. the intended learning outcomes. Just as some people can run faster than others, so too can some people learn faster than others, and the pace and extent of the learning differs with the content and the intended learning outcomes. We differ in our talents, and our differences are manifested in our different kinds, forms and levels of cognitive achievement. And just as some people choose to run recreationally and/or competitively, and some choose not to run, so it is with studying and learning. Some people choose to accept guidance, to study and to endeavor to learn some content (history, geography, chemistry, welding, carpentry, plumbing, sculpting, singing, playing hockey, etc.), and some do not, for whatever reason and motivation. We all have our own reasons and motivations when choosing to study intentionally under guidance some content or not to study some particular content. Teachers provide opportunities to study some content, but it is not possible, in education, to coerce students to learn some content. Coerced learning is possible, and it does take place in the processes of socialization, enculturation and indoctrination. But it is not the variant of learning (conduced learning) which occurs in education (teaching and intentionally studying under guidance).