From teacher to ‘learning engineer’

Could you dig this change? Source: Insung Yoon/Unsplash

When you think of the term ‘teacher’, you immediately envision a knowledgeable, authoritative figure who stands at the front of the classroom and conducts lessons.

Teachers are ultimately there to help sculpt and shape young minds into worldly learners who understand the basics of English, Science and Maths, while touching on other essential topics like citizenship, sociology, the arts and physical education (PE).

Familiarising learners with academic frameworks, teachers are there to steer students through their desired disciplines and evoke a solid set of social skills.

So as we progress through the technical age, it’s essential we hold onto our social skills and remember what it means to be inherently human.

Instead of watching a holographic AI mind at the front of a classroom, it’s important that the role of teacher remains through the future of education.

Counteracting that claim, however, is author and educator Ben Johnson.

“That idea of the teacher as a dispenser of knowledge is not, as we know, what teachers do these days. But because so much tradition and social history are connected to the word teacher, I suggest that we give serious thought to using a different term, one that fully describes what we do as teachers.

“I propose we consider instead the term learning engineer,” Johnson explains.

How would this new title impact the students? Source: STEMShare NSW/Unsplash

What is meant by learning engineer?

With a technological twist to its name, learning engineer sounds like a futuristic teaching term.

If this term progresses alongside new tech roles, it could fit rather nicely among the list of ultramodern jobs.

For Johnson, rewriting the role and title of teacher brings countless benefits.

“I envision that this new title will shift our thinking away from the traditional and toward incorporating the incredible skill, planning, imagination, and creativity required to design incredibly effective learning opportunities for students. For our learning engineers, creating learning environments that inspire students to discover and apply what they learn will be a priority.”

Having already taken the plunge and breaking out of the traditional use of the word ‘teacher’, Johnson will now call his fellow teachers learning engineers instead.

But it doesn’t stop there.

“This new perspective on learning has to extend to our classroom para-professionals. At my school, we previously changed their title from teacher’s aide to teaching assistant, and these additional adults in the classroom began taking their role as extensions of the teacher more seriously.

“For this coming school year, they will be called learning assistants,” Johnson notes.

Rewiring the job titles to enhance the tailored learning experience that pupils receive amplifies the fixation on learning rather than teaching.

Rethinking the role of the teacher. Source: STEMShare NSW/Unsplash

It’s a great idea on paper, but will it provoke a global transition of the teacher’s traditional role?

With the increased number of tech-based gadgets making an appearance in the classroom, as well as digital professors popping up to assist distance learners/parents with their homeschooling tactics, it’s highly likely that the job description will alter alongside digital progression.

But where does that leave the title?

On one hand, when you envision a teacher, you may reflect on past experiences of sitting in a classroom, eagerly awaiting your next lesson and fixating your gaze on the informative, inspirational figure in front of you.

But what do you envision when you imagine the role of a learning engineer?

For Johnson, answering this and working to transform the perception of what a teacher means is, in his eyes, one of the greatest goals and challenges of a transformative school leader.

“And it can only be done by creating a school culture that focuses on student learning as the centre of everything,” Johnson adds.

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