The old role of the teacher
In ancient Rome there were two types of leadership that were distinguished by the origin of their power: “potestas” and “auctoritas”.
Potestas was when their power emanated from office. Their ability to lead was given by the office they held and was not questioned. It was the power that emanated from law.
On the contrary, if a person held auctoritas (authority), it meant that their leadership came from knowledge, courage and the moral capacity to give qualified opinions. This type of leadership was given by the community and was not based on any title or rank. No one was legally obliged to obey and yet the community often did.
The current role of the teacher
In the classroom we have lived in a model in which the good teacher had the power that gave them their position and auctoritas, thanks to their knowledge and their ability to transmit this to the students. But that model no longer exists. On one hand, they have lost their power because the teacher’s authority is not accepted in the same way as before. Also their auctoritas has been weakened, before it was the one who had the knowledge, the contents, but now they are freely available on the net.
When we transfer that to the online world it’s much more difficult to get the teacher, who is not physically present, to gain the respect of the students. It is even more difficult when the teacher is just a person who records himself with a camera giving a master class or uploading a presentation or notes on a topic. He or she may have spent a lot of time and love creating that content, but the student will rarely perceive the value in that work.
The future role of the teacher
The truth is that we live in a world where the greatest expert in each subject is just a click away. What is the point of a teacher creating new content in this environment that will never be better than that of the greatest expert? In reality, the content generated by the teachers is a kind of pre-digested summary of the concepts they have internalized by reading various expert sources on the subject. Therefore, what the teacher does is to simplify the students’ search for knowledge, but in doing so he or she eliminates a good part of the necessary journey for learning. Wouldn’t it make more sense to let the student make that same journey but at his or her own pace and along their own path? That is when learning becomes more meaningful.
The role of the teacher in NeuroK
When we designed NeuroK we created it as a social network as we believe that the best way to learn is by confronting ideas with others, and discovering new sources of knowledge along the way. In this environment we thought that the teacher should not be a teacher of content, but someone who contributes with criteria and guides the student along the way, avoiding sterile debates and filtering unreliable sources of knowledge.
That is why the teacher must change their way of thinking when faced with giving a course with NeuroK. Their objective is not to create content, but to stimulate the debate that leads to knowledge, to take care of the community and to make sure that everybody participates and that the debate is not diverted by incorrect or unsuitable content. Therefore, when a teacher considers the structure of a course in NeuroK, they must do it from the process that will lead to learning and not from content, from the questions and not from the answers.