As teachers we get told time and again what matters most in the classroom with respect to student learning is the educator in the classroom. In John Hattie’s seminal work “Visible Learning” he looks at over 800 research studies and ranks the results of those studies according to the influence they have on learning. If you scroll down to page 297, you can see those results here. If you look at the top 30 influences you will see that a full two thirds are attributed to teachers and teaching. It is no wonder that so much PD and research is invested finding teaching strategies that work.
In the December 2012 edition of Parenting for High Potential President of the NAGC Dr. Paula Olszewski-Kubilius writes about the importance of learning outside of school. In it she reports on a 2012 study that examined what influences performance on standardized test scores and according to this study, scores for gifted students can be greatly affected by learning that takes place out of school. She tells us that she is not surprised by this. Parents of accomplished musicians, dancers and athletes have routinely exposed these students to further training outside of school. Research conducted on high achieving scientists and mathematicians indicate that much of their learning was self-initiated outside of the school. One need only to think of the stories we’ve heard about Steve Jobs and Bill Gates and how much of their learning occurred outside of the system.
So which is it then? The teacher or the home that has the biggest influence on learning? I subscribe to the theory that it is the teacher in front of the student that matters most. But I would qualify that with the idea that we are all teachers at any given moment, whether we are in a classroom with our students or in our homes with our children. What matters most would be that we are authentic in our role as teacher. What does that look like? I think Dr. Maryellen Welmer does a nice job of describing it in her blog which you can find here. In my experiences the most valuable learning experiences have come in those authentic moments, both at home and at school.