Question of the week: Is it the teacher’s role to create knowledge or to organize
Joe McConda said:
I really don’t know the answer, but there is nothing new under the sun (to loosely quote Solomon of the Old Testament). Knowledge is discovered and new connections are made to use knowledge in different ways, so I guess I would have to say that teachers do not create knowledge.
Some of the first thoughts that popped in my mind were similar to Joe’s comments when I read our question. But after pondering for awhile, I have decided that, in a way, teachers do create knowledge. When students and teachers work together, most of the time someone learns something. For students, most of the time lesson content is new. As for the teacher, he or she may learn a new way to teach a concept or discover a new perspective. I think that what happens in this scenario is that the teacher may indirectly create the knowledge by organizing and facilitating a learning event that guides the knowledge created inside oneself, by oneself. Eventually, the student organizes his or her knowledge.
As for Vygotsky, he has always been one of my favorites. As part of his theory, he advocated the creation of learning environments and using the same to interact with other people in order to construct profound learning experiences, which is what we do with our Personal Learning Environments and in this class. This is known as sociocultural theory. In a nutshell, Vygotsky’s theory suggests that cognitive development depends on interaction with other people and the tools provided by the society to help us form an understanding of our world. Some of our societal tools include the computer, internet and social software like MySpace and chat rooms. This is where students are currently entertaining themselves by spending an enormous amount of time interacting with each other. Since the internet is like the world’s largest store of knowledge and the social software allows people to interact with each other, social constructivists would very likely consider it a good learning environment.