Alternative Name for a Teacher
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.”
When Juliet wondered about the significance of her Romeo’s name…
If we changed the word we use for ‘rose’, would it change anything about the flower itself? Probably not. Whether we called it a rose, a gabloosh or even a p3812jk, it would still look and smell the same, wouldn’t it?
But is the same true for people? Somehow, it seems not. Unlike a rose, a person is self-aware, meaning we can think about what it’s like to be ourselves. And our names are an important part of our sense of who we are. Every name for every person in every language has some kind of significance. Think of your own name: Where did it come from? What does it mean? Why was it chosen? What does it mean to you?
Certainly Superman, Wolverine and Catwoman wouldn’t be the same if they were called Sid, Walter and Candy. Their names indicate something about their character and the role they play in society. I believe the same can be true of job titles; an engineer engineers, a specialist specialises, a manager manages, an assistant assists.
What about a teacher? Or an educator?
During our professional development this week the Edufundi mentors tackled these questions: What is teaching and learning? And with this in mind, what would be a better name for a teacher/educator?
Here are some of our ideas:
Let’s start with this popular statement by Nelson Mandala:
It sounds good, doesn’t it?
But take a moment to think about it – really think about it. What does it mean? How is education a weapon, what makes it powerful, and how can it change the world?
Perhaps, as a start, we should ask the most important question: What is education, really?
A Brief History of Education
Society has always looked for ways to make children useful citizens. Depending on the environment and the social needs of the time, adults took it upon themselves to impart the necessary knowledge and skills.
Ancient hunter-gatherers focused on basic survival, the agricultural age was about helping to cultivate land, raise livestock and take care of the homestead, and as industrialisation took over children were a valuable workforce. For the most part, early education was about (physical labour, moving society/adults forward… The main exception, when physical labour was exchanged for mental labour, was the passing on of religious and cultural subject matter. This was why children were taught to read and write, and how the first concepts of ‘school’ emerged.
Over time society’s view of children, and their role as citizens, began to change. Rather than providing cheap labour, school became their ‘work’ and brains replaced brawn. A formal structure was developed, different subjects were introduced, and gradually an education system emerged.
For a long time religious groups and specific members of the community took charge of teaching and learning. But towards the end of the 19th century, that changed; the State (government) took over the responsibility of running schools and educating children. Formal systems were put in place, teachers were trained and everything became more standardised. The end result was the model of formal schooling we use today.
Where are we now?
The main goal of education has always been to strengthen society and move it forward, by making sure children have specific knowledge and skills to make them useful citizens. While this hasn’t really changed, society certainly has! So have our ideas about what will strengthen us and move us forward.
Much has happened over the last four decades. Developments in science and technology, and discoveries in the areas of psychology and neuroscience have prompted us to look more closely at the concepts of teaching and learning. Those with an interest in education have been striving to answer one important question: What is the best way to educate our children now?
If children are to thrive in the complex, ever-changing modern world in which they live they need a host of physical, mental, emotional, social and creative skills. How can this best be achieved and who will help them on their journey?
As part of their professional development, the Edufundi mentors have been digging deeper into some important questions: What, exactly, is learning? What is teaching? In our context, what is a teacher’s role in learning?