In 1971 a scholar by the name of Robert Nisbet claimed that “the man of knowledge and his pursuits were sacred”. Much has changed in the 40 or so years since professor Nisbet wrote those words. And it goes beyond the fact that do we not write only in the masculine gender any more. While teachers are still regarded as knowledgeable, they are no longer revered as sacred. While some may lament, and even resist it, teachers no longer enjoy the “aura of the sacred”, as Nisbet calls it.
In today’s world where technology is moving at the speed of light, young people are very aware that they know more than many of the “over-30s”, especially when it comes to technology. Adults regularly turn to young people for help and coaching on matters of hardware, software and social media.
Old, traditional, hierarchical and patriarchal attitudes are giving way to more collaborative approaches. Old, authoritative, “teacher-centred” or “expert-centred” approaches to teaching are as out as black and white televisions. Are you still lamenting the days when the teacher was worshiped?
Nisbet, R. (1971). The Degradation of the Academic Dogma: The University in America, 1945-1970. N.Y.: Basic Books Inc.
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Sarah Elaine Eaton is a faculty member in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, Canada.