Have you heard of learning scientists? Or learning engineers?
These are the experts in how we learn and who are able to help us apply this knowledge in the design of learning experiences. But they are not the same as teachers though. Instead, teachers can benefit from their insights.
Since he expertise of learning scientists are often ignored, the current situaton is one in which most well-meaning education professionals are “essentially using their intuition and personal experience with learning rather than applying existing science and generating data to help more students and professors succeed“.
Admittedly, learning is a complex process and I would say all the more so since our current context, whether culturally or technologically, has become richer, ever changing and also more messy. How we personally learn, even just a decade ago, might not match exactly how learners today learn. That certainly makes intuition and personal experience not always very reliable for informing how we design learning experiences.
I do wonder whether such a distinction of specialisation between the teacher and the learning scientist will help bring the clarity or certainty needed.
In my schema, a good teacher possesses good content knowledge as well as pedagogical know-how. To me, it is the latter that defines the professional expertise of teaching. It seems to me that learning scientists would be the ones specialising in pedagogical know-how.
So, what would it be like for a primary or secondary school teacher to benefit from the expertise of learning scientists? (Can I spot such an expert if I met one?) Are action researches, such as lesson studies, that more teachers are embarking on, good enough stop-gap measure in the meantime?
This sure got me thinking.