As I was putting together that post on ZPD yesterday, I was reminded of this post On Context. The idea is to derive a functional definition of “teacher” in some way that’s not what a teacher is — sage, guide, coach — so much as what a teacher does — bridge.

The problem with the existential labels is that the terms — sage, guide, coach — are ill-defined. They’re just labels which are not terribly diagnostic, provide only rudimentary guidance on behaviors and attitudes, and remain decidedly difficult to implement.

Bridge is a comparatively clear notion. It plays off Vygotsky’s idea of “scaffold” by extending the reach of an individual’s ZPD and provides a concept that’s loose enough to include classroom teachers, book authors, and movie producers — all of whom are (or can be) teachers.

The question for today is, “Is this idea too simplistic?”

12 Responses to “A Bridge to Somewhere”

  1. Shellae Peters Says:

    Even though this article tries to go into detail and create visual diagrams to symbolize learning, it is still very vague. We all know what a coach or a guide does so by using these terms as descriptors for the role of a teacher we are giving some tangibility to our definition. Even though these are still simplistic, at best it still gets across the point that an effective teacher must take on many roles. Teaching is not a job, but a way of life.

  2. Kim Clevinger Says:

    The article is simplistic in the fact that we already know that teachers extend our knowledge by introducing us to things that we may have never seen or heard of before. I think the diagram simply shows us how we construct our “bridge of knowledge”.

  3. Tim Toews Says:

    I don’t think its too simplistic. I think we altogether too often overcomplicate everything, especially in the education realm. The students want something, and I am the path that they must cross to get there. How my bridge to a given student may be constructed may be different than to another (for instance, my legally blind child must have a different bridge built to him than my EBD student), but being the pathway to knowledge is as simple as it can get.

  4. Shonda Ash Says:

    I think that we all to offten get wrapped up in trying to label things that we often miss what is important. If we really took the time to think about what we do then we will find that their are many labels that will explain different parts of what we do. But there is not one the explains all of what we do.

  5. Ashley Pelfrey Says:

    I think that some aspects of the article are simplistic, or rather they tell us things that we already know. Like someone else mentioned, we already know that teachers extend knowledge. But, I really like the idea of teachers serving as the means to connect old information with new information. There is nothing else that we can compare teaching to. We are not coaches, we are not guides, we are something completely different.

  6. Karen Adkins Says:

    I don’t think the article is too simplistic. Tim is right. Why does everything have to be so complicated? If our desire is to teach and the most effective way to illustrate a concept is simple, why should we opt for a more complex method? The article was simple, but the idea was to convey how we form connections between what we know and what we are learning. I have always thought of my mind as if it were a library that I can cross reference and retrieve different information. In order for something to stick I need something in which it relates. A teacher can help students take what they already know and apply it to something new and make it stick.

  7. Diana Jackson Says:

    It does seem to be simplistic in terms of “teacher.” I think we all need to be reminded at times about how knowledge occurs. The diagram was very helpful. Our overall thought should be to bridge the gap for learners; however, it’s much more complex than it seems. If only it could connect in such a simple way.

  8. Ronn Varney Says:

    It is simplistic in the thinking that a teacher only bridges the gap of learning and student. A teacher takes on many roles in learning processes, however I think it helps others understand the ultimate goal of teachers. Teachers must act in many roles, but they must use all the roles to create the bridge. A very simplistic idea, but a good general description.

  9. Krista Kidwell Says:

    For some reason this makes me think of students that are home schooled. Their “teacher” is their parent. Depending on the state there are certain guidelines that are followed. All the “knowledge” that teachers are expected to gain from the classes they take to receive degree after degree and some students are successful from learning from their parents. Who most likely may not even have a degree at all. Teachers provide an environment where knowledge and learning can take place, but acquiring knowledge happens everywhere. What makes it significant in the classroom?

  10. lowell Says:

    That’s the 64million dollar question.

  11. opit Says:

    The ‘traditional’ mission statement about teaching is that it helps prepare youth for their adult challenges.
    What is missing among many young professionals is an appreciation that their employers have their own ideas about what that should entail and have the leverage to severely subvert a process of information transfer by resource control and coaching the coaches.
    Homeschooling and religious dogmas are only obvious challenges to excellence : along with ‘teaching to the test.’ ‘Community standards’ entail a totally nonscientific agenda – that control one’s advancement.
    Sentimentality for the young is a saving grace that can be harshly suppressed.
    I don’t often participate in this kind of session as I am not a teaching professional ; but rather act as a hobbyist-librarian. This might be of interest

  12. monica Says:

    Simplistic – yes, but accurate also…..tying back into a technology link – the venue where students can be exposed to knowledge and learning is increasing exponentially through access to the internet, and other people in on-line communities. Keeping the classroom relevant in this quickly evolving culture is our new challenge. I believe that I am seeing this discrepancy even in my elementary kids…the things they are interested in they are experts about…their background knowledge is amazing. I agree with opit that the currency of relevant knowledge is set by largely external forces (like employers) so even though learners are becoming more involved and engaged in their learning that learning is not necessarily of great value in the larger community.

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