As we move forward, we are working with a syllabus that was co-created by all learners in the course, including me. Now, how do we explore the content of the course? Notice, I refrain from saying: How do we "cover" the content? Have you ever though about the use of "cover" in relation to course content? MaryEllen Weimer (2002) says it best in her chapter about the Function of Content:
Our strong content orientation is reflected in the metaphor used to describe the action we take with respect to content: we "cover" it. But what exactly does that metaphor mean? We "cover" content - like leaves cover the forest floor? Like a bedspread covers the bed? Is that the relationship that ought to exist between the teacher and content when the goal is learning?" (p. 46)
Many of us probably do think about 'covering' content - in the sense that we know what we want the students to explore during our courses and we strive to 'get through it all' within the semester. But when we view the content as something that we have to 'cover' or 'get through', we might incidentally blow right by the learning. What if we consider 'using' the content, 'exploring' the content, 'uncovering' the content? This is at the heart of learner-centered instruction - engaging students in exploring the content.
The teacher's role in this process is another point for consideration by many teacher educators, teachers and instructional designers. What is our role when we are trying to engage the students? To what extent are we involved in the learning process? Weimer uses several metaphors to characterize the role of the teacher in a learner-centered environment - coach, midwife, gardener, etc. She promotes stepping out of the spotlight and letting the students lead the learning. Another metaphor from my teacher education courses is that denoting an architect. The latter is the metaphor of my choosing for a reason that was made clear to me in class this past week when we had a little breakdown.