How does a teacher or coach transition to a learner-centric view where you can allow the learner to explore and develop within the environment? Co-founder of Myfastestmile, Mark Upton reflects on how coaches can facilitate this process.


The image below appeared on my twitter timeline a couple of times today…



It prompted retrieval of one of my favourite passages on teaching/learning…

“Teaching is, in some ways, a myth. The greatest skill is learned, more than it is taught. And the great teacher realizes this.

The great teacher introduces the student to a concept and allows him to make acquaintance with it. He leads him into the room and allows him to have a look around. Given the appropriate freedom, the student ambles through the room, visiting the corners and the layout. His brain develops a feel for the boundaries of the room and how to move within it without bumping into walls. With time, the student learns to live within the room and breathe its unique fragrance. Eventually, the room becomes home.

This is the way in which skill is developed.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the instruction that prevails across the world consists of leading the student by the hand. Pulling him into the room. Taking him to each part of the room and defining its characteristics. Showing him how to walk within the room. Demonstrating for him the length of the stride and the speed of the walk. The student is instructed to memorize the information and repeat it for the teacher. (Source)


In AFL coaching in the last few years there has been an increased emphasis on teachers and teaching, with less attention being paid to learning. But perhaps this is a natural evolution in understanding? It was for me – a quote from a blog post I wrote in 2010…

“I am passionate on coaching being about teaching. More emphasis on teaching and quality training in our game can only lead to better coaching and better players.”

Transitioning from that teacher-centric view to a learner-centric view – having a “model of the learner and learning process” – has been valuable. From that basis has since followed an exploration of complexity and learning dynamics – that is, “zooming out” to take a wider view of all the things that influence the twisting and turning of the learners path (ie socio-cultural constraints).

“The more you can zoom out and embrace complexity, the more chance you then have of zooming in and focusing on the small details that matter most” – Eric Berlow

By having a timestamped record of my thinking through blog posts it is evident my own learning is taking twists and turns. I look forward to reflecting on this post in another 6 years to see where the journey has taken me…




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