Teacher ignorance? Should it be cherished or denied?

Thumbnail Image
FL_AVTeacher2018.pdf(213.43 KB)
Accepted Version
Long, Fiachra
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Antioch University
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
What role does real ignorance play in teaching and learning? As far as learning is concerned, we almost expect to find that real ignorance precedes learning and that this real ignorance disappears once something has been taught. It is a type of zero sum game where ignorance + knowledge describes the full set. The more ignorant you are, the less knowledge you have and vice versa. One might expect that teachers know what pupils come to learn and that once learners have learned what the teachers know, they can move on. Something is wrong with this ‘transmission’ model, however. Teachers too learn things when they teach. They sometimes come to understand what they teach much better than before and they learn how to teach. Indeed learning and teaching is not a static process because learning is an ongoing and lifelong activity. It implies the desire to understand, which Aristotle spoke about, and which is an imperative levied on all, no matter what their age or their level of knowledge. Even established experts learn items they may have overlooked or may only be coming slowly to understand in their attempts to explain them. On the other hand, if we think of learning as a static zero sum game, then we might come to think of teacher ignorance simply as a useful ploy, a clever trick to get learners involved or to raise the standard of engagement of the class group, a method of camouflage which allows them to construct questions that seem to be sincere but end up being only an introductory ploy prior to giving instruction to learners. This issue is identical to the problem of Socratic ignorance. Was Socrates really ignorant or was he simply pretending to be so? Commentators have differed on this point in the past.
Collaborative learning movement , Teaching , Learning , Lifelong learning
Long, F. (2018) 'Teacher ignorance? Should it be cherished or denied?', in McDermott, J. C. and Valentines, J (ed.) Didactic Challenges. Los Angeles: Antioch University. pp. 7-22.