TITLE: Teachers Working Themselves Out Of a Job AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 18, 2011 2:10 PM DESC: ----- BODY: Dave Rooney wrote a recent entry on what he does when coaching in the realm of agile software development. He summarizes his five main tasks as:
All but the fourth is a part of my job every day. Listening, asking questions, and challenging assumptions are essential parts of helping people to learn, whatever one's discipline or level of instruction. As a CS prof, I teach a lot of courses that instruct or require programming, and I look for opportunities to inject pragmatic programming skills and agile development practices. What of working myself out of a job? For consultants like Rooney, this is indeed the goal: help an organization get on a track where they don't need his advice, where they can provide coaching from inside, and where they become sufficient in their own practices. In a literal sense, this is not part of my job. If I do my job well, I will remain employed by the same organization, or at least have that option available to me. But in another sense, my goals with respect to working myself out of a job are the same as as a consultant's, only at the level of individual students. I want to help students reach a point where they can learn effectively on their own. As much as possible, I hope for them to become more self-sufficient, able to learn as an equal member of the larger community of programmers and computer scientists. A teacher's goal is, in part, to prepare students to move on to a new kind of learning, where they don't need us to structure the learning environment or organize the stream of ideas and information they learn from. Many students come to us pretty well able to do this already; they need only to realize that they don't me! With most universities structured more around courses than one-on-one tutorials, I don't get to see the process through with every student I teach. One of the great joys is to have the chance to work with the same student many times over the years, through multiple courses and one-on-one through projects and research. In any case, I think it's healthy for teachers to approach their jobs from the perspective of working themselves out of a job. Not to worry; there is always another class of students coming along. Of course, universities as we know them may be disappearing. But the teachers among us will always find people who want to learn. -----