Learn to stand alone

July 30, 2009

Kevin Sharpe hits the nail on the head ("Teach them how to think", 16 July). Broadly speaking, pupils have learnt to be taught, whereas students are learning to learn, to study under guidance. They are ready to graduate when they no longer need guidance and can carry on learning when lecturers or other "teachers" are not there.

To put it another way, education prior to the tertiary level consists largely of answering others' questions, while higher education involves learning to ask one's own questions. This is the prime difference between teaching and learning. I love teaching but in the context of higher education, I need to keep reminding myself that the more I teach, the less students learn. I'll have done my job when they don't need me any more.

John J. Wilson, Placements tutor, University of Central Lancashire.

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