Teaching is not just transferring knowledge – Experiences as a teacher trainer in foreign countries

I have had possibility to train some groups of teachers and principals for instance in Brazil, China, Dominican Republic and many other foreign principals and teachers in their own countries during last years.

The significant feeling for me has been engagement. They have been so ready to work as change agents in different educational situations and reforms in their own societies. At the same time, they often feel anxious because of curricula, standardized tests, funding limits and so on. We have had nice discussions about their flexibility and possibilities of pedagogical freedom inside those fences. Working with these groups has given me new perspectives on all my work as a teacher trainer.

They are mostly such a creative people so they find out easily how they can use their pedagogical freedom by using different methods, PBL, projects, self-assessment, group assessment, activating methods and especially dialogue. “The stories we shared were the best experience for me. Thank you for encouraging us to talk even about the most difficult topics. During the week, we trusted each other enough to share our experiences. It was easy to follow the concrete examples and metaphors.” For me, working with those groups has been a constant source of delight and great satisfaction. I really have enjoyed my role as a trainer or facilitator of his or her own learning processes.

Brazilian philosopher Paulo Freire wrote, “Teaching is not just transferring knowledge”. He wrote that to know how to teach is to create possibilities for the construction and production of knowledge rather than to be engaged simply in a game of transferring knowledge. He continues: “There is a relationship between the joy essential to teaching activity and hope. Hope is something shared between teachers and students. The hope that we can learn together, teach together, be curiously impatient together, produce something together, and resist together the obstacles that prevent the flowering of our joy. In truth, from the point of view of the human condition, hope is an essential component and not an intruder”.

In my opinion, it seems that those principals and teachers I have met as participants of these training events are like frontiers. The special ones who have started a snowball effect in their own countries. I found all my experiences so enlightened.

Juha Lahtinen
Senior lecturer, Tampere University of Applied Sciences, Pedagogical R&D,
Co-founder of Learning Scoop