Recently in my Computers in Education & Human Development class, the professor asked us to analyze the following passage:

“The teacher’s role has changed dramatically in the new paradigm of instruction from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side.”  I currently see three major roles involved in being a guide.  First, the teacher is a designer of student work.  Second, the teacher is a facilitator of the learning process.  Third and perhaps most important in the public education sector, the teacher is a caring mentor, a person who is concerned with the full, well-rounded development of the student.” (Charles M. Reigeluth)

The passage makes us reevaluate what a learner really is.  In this new setting, where the teacher has gone from sage to guide, the learner must now understand that they are required to put in effort in order to learn. Because the instructor is now the guide, the student must become both self-directed and self-motivated.  In hope of establishing this, the instructor can call upon the learner to help teach the material.

These new roles make me think of the learning theory of constructivism: a theory or philosophy of learning based on the idea that the student, based on mental activity, constructs knowledge.  This theory supports the learner taking responsibility for his or her own learning process, which is what the guide role suggests.  Depending on their preferential learning environment, this can increase or hinder the student’s overall retention of the class.

In order to simplify the distinction between these two definitions, I want to reference the Disney film Finding Nemo. The character of Mr. Ray (the stingray) represents the traditional style of instructor, where the teacher is the sage.  The character of the surfing sea turtle, Crush, who is letting his son learn how to swim the East Australian Current through experience, but guiding him along and offering support when needed, represents the instructor as guide.

Question:  Do you think the Finding Nemo comparison is appropriate?  And what other comparisons can you think of for “sage on the stage” and “guide on the side”.

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