Learning & Teaching – Why they are different processes

I completely understand why the South African Minister of Basic Education is doing away with Outcomes-based Education. The results speak for themselves. But do we focus too much on pedagogy (teacher-focused) and too little on experiential learning? Going back to the basics is no bad thing – fundamentals such as reading and writing and even computer literacy are fundamental. Indeed the first two are  good examples of subjects that need to be taught. Although a love of reading is surely something that is learned by experience – you can’t teach that!

My favourite example is about divorce. If  anything can be taught, then we should teach people how to get on and have a successful marriage, or they should have learned by other’s mistakes, but as we all know, they don’t!  That’s because human behaviour is just so complex!

All of the things that ultimately make an individual “employable” , or able to create work for themselves, are behaviours that must be learned. For example, good communications skills, and customer service are behaviours. You can tell people over and over what makes for good customer service, but unless they have experienced good and bad, and had positive  reinforcement for good behaviour, it’s really just so many words that can be learned but not internalized.

Can we teach entrepreneurship? I think not – we have to help an individual to uncover their own inherent ability and wish to be creative and entrepreneurial. On the whole though, the pedagogical approach to education destroys creativity.

So in my view, by removing outcomes based education, we might just be throwing the baby out  with the bath water. Leaners might get better marks, but be even less employable because they  do not demonstrate good soft skills, and are not able to think for themselves.

So why (in my opinion) was outcomes based education such a dismal failure? Perhaps because the pedagogical approach was used to try to teach the concept to educators, and their behaviours never cahnged!


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