Empowerment and Expertise

David Wiley, iterating toward openness, May 15, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I wrote about reducing our dependence on experts, David Wiley wondered what I meant, I responded, and David Wiley now mostly gets what I mean. Except for this: "There’s a traveling-back-in-time-to-kill-your-own-grandfather quality to this thinking... can we say that we never needed teachers in the first place after a teacher helps them develop their expertise?" There is not an undifferentiated whole called 'reaching'. I've explained this elsewhere. One way of teaching is to read to a person; another is to teach the person to read. What I am saying is that if you teach a person to read, you have eliminated the need for teachers to read to a person (except maybe some small part of teaching them to read that entails reading to the person). If you show people how to read a map, you don't need to give them directions - ever (except maybe that first day when you're telling them how to get to map class). You know, I really think that if we got the first few years right, we wouldn't need the remaining 14 years of so of formal education; we could manage with a much more flexible, creative and innovative approach.

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