The Role of the Teacher
The implementation of the ideas of Constructivism, Project-based learning and Democratic schools requires a new role of the teacher or any adult taking care of the child’s learning.
The teacher takes on a mediational role rather than being an instructor. Teaching "at" students is replaced by assisting them to understand and help one another to understand.
The teacher’s role is to be a facilitator, a counselor, a mentor. He or she does not provide ready-made answers but guides the students to find the answers by themselves. For example, instead of direct instruction the teacher will guide the students to find their learning style.
A 10-year research program at the University of Technology, Sydney, demonstrated that by helping students to understand their own learning styles, improved comprehension levels and reduced attrition rates were achieved.
Psychologically our model is based on the following tenets:
In the project-based classroom the teacher:
Searches for compelling projects, which are meaningful and relevant to their lives;
Motivates: powerfully activates students’ need to know what they’re being taught;
Facilitates: creates situations, which inspire students to search for solutions, shows the students how to use tools and equipments;
Organizes events for students to publicly present their project;
Helps children discover; exposes children to many potentially interesting facets of the world;
Arranges a physical environment, which provokes curiosity, encourages children to follow up on the interests stimulated by the environment;
Places children in active, creative roles of explorers, hunters, inquirers, designers, performers, etc.;
Provides ample scope for individuals to test their learning in new and odd situations.
Selects content from basic human activities and makes these activities vivid and exciting;
Uses the children's background of experiences and provides a rich variety of new experiences;
Involves children in multi-sensory experiences that are natural to them;
Asks open-ended questions designed to elicit divergent thinking.
[55 Wilson, Jenny, 2004, Understanding learning styles: implications for design education in the university, University of Technology, Sydney, January.]