Columbia University’s David Hansen visits UBC’s Faculty of Education, Okanagan Campus
When you can learn anything by looking it up online, what does it mean to be a person in the role of teacher today?
For Dr. David Hansen, that’s the question that informed his “Person in the World” project.
David Hansen is the Wineberg Professor in the Historical and Philosophical Foundation of Education at the Columbia University’s Teachers College, New York.
In 2014, Hansen completed a three-year study, working with public school teachers in the United States.
“Educators have always had to change and adapt to culture and society,” he said. “The question is how to be a teacher in the role today while maintaining and being connected in the deep values in educating.”
Hansen interviewed 16 K-12 teachers and observed more than 200 of their classes. During the study, teachers were asked to think critically about their work.
“Teachers are under tremendous pressure from the public. The teachers who participated in the study discussed their greatest doubts, fears and joys,” he said.
Hansen notes that the most common pressure on teachers is to fix the economy, to “get my kid a job.” But in the age of information overload, is the traditional style of teaching enough?
Hansen believes technology has helped innovate teaching, but the impacts on learning are less clear.
“Love will never be online.”
Hansen is not talking about Internet dating. He’s talking about John Dewey’s philosophy of education. Dewey’s belief is “to be a person is to be a relational creature, constituted by communication.”
Hansen believes the critical study of teachers and their role in our lives is important because technology will never be wise about children; technology will never be able to understand the hopes and fears of a child.
So should future teachers fear for their role in today’s world of search engines and social media?
Hansen’s belief is that teachers will continue to grow and evolve with the times.
“People say that teaching is predictable and boring—that couldn’t be farther from the truth,” Hansen said. “Good teachers feel the invitation embedded in their role to influence children in positive, empowering ways.”