Ken Robinson: 4 Roles That Expert Teachers Play

Since I was on about the significance of “the”, here’s a counter-example. Again, I’m citing Ken Robinson’s excellent book Creative Schools, but this time over a less inspired, more mnemonic use of 4 categories. In discussing the functions of expert teachers, he used 4 adjectives beginning with ‘E’, clearly to facilitate memory. While I unabashedly like ‘E’, I found in this instance that the meanings are obfuscated:

1. Engage
“They need to engage, inspire, and enthuse students by creating conditions in which those students will want to learn.”

2. Enable
“Effective teaching is a constant process of adjustment, judgment, and responding to the energy and engagement of the students.”

3. Expect
“Students need teachers who connect with them. And above all, they need teachers who believe in them.”

4. Empower
“The best teachers are not only instructors. They are mentors and guides who raise the confidence of their students, help them find a sense of direction, and empower them to believe in themselves.”

If you close this page now, can you remember what each of these entails? I couldn’t. Because unlike in the 4 basic purposes of education, there were no subheadings. Even with these direct quotes, it’s difficult to grasp what each point is focused on. If we remember only the headings, you might mistakenly go on to expect unreasonably much from students, for instance.

Ken Robinson - Creative Schools

Okayyyy sorry Ken, I know I’m picky here. You are great! [Source]

To make up for this shortcoming, I propose a rehash of these roles:

1. Stir curiosity.
2. Affirm personally.
3. Respond to evolving needs.
4. Assign discovery duties.

By sacrificing the alliteration, we almost gain two full couplets. By attaching more words, the abstract verbs take on greater urgency. By making the actions clearer, we open to the possibility of focused elaboration, critique, and addition. It’s important to get everyone off the same starting page.

In case I come across as petty in this critique, I end with Ken Robinson’s own words. If you can remember only one thing on the task of teachers, let it be this: “Their job is not to teach subjects; it is to teach students.”

Did you find any items missing or worth clarification from either the 4Es or SARA*?

(*A girl’s name, but you will be right to read nothing into it.)

Ken Robinson & Lou Aronica – Creative Schools: The grassroots revolution that’s transforming education. (2016)

Socio Empath

Hi, my name is Eugene. I am a Sociology graduate from the National University of Singapore. This blog is an invitation: To see our selves as colored by cultures, and to brighten the colors of our society. I seek to help you create freedom in everyday life, with empathy and the sociological imagination.

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