Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What is the difference between a teacher and a learning manager? Is there a difference?

The term "teacher" to refer to any role that focuses on helping people learn in a structured and intentional way and one who manages the learning journey, or learning manager.

When using the terms "teacher" and "teaching" we should also be including "trainer" and "training", "instructor" and "instructing", "coach" and "coaching", "educator" and "educating", "facilitator" and "facilitating" and more fundamentally learning manager.

The term teacher to me, translate to "Influence to change intension". I don’t think there is a difference in the terms "Teacher" and "Learning Manager", both describe an individual that provides direction and fosters guidance along any amount of learning journeys. I do believe though that the pre-requisites for teaching are faster evolving with more responsibility placed upon “Learning Managers” then ever before.

I was once asked to fillet a fish, I was told it was like filleting another fish which I was able to do and was shown in quick time how it's easy. “See, you cut down here along the gill sweep down along the back bone, cut right to the tail, then cut over the ribs and job done, see?”

Busy kitchen life continues on and now I have to fillet the fish, right.

Even though I was shown the technique, and had experience with similar activities and I had the example in front of me, was I confident, no.

I was given no indication of the intricacies or incorrect outcomes of those examples, although the blue print I was given I can relate to now, after many experiences with fish, at the time, I drew a blank. So I was actually about to learn through my own investigation based off the example ("teaching" in the task sense") how to fillet the fish, hopefully to the standard of the cranky chef.

I proceeded to fillet the fish, as shown, in my eyes doing a good job, the Chef returned, and was not happy with my efforts. I had left to much flesh on the bones, not good enough. Look he said, see how I angle the knife down like this to run along the bones thus getting all of the flesh, these cuts are good but you need to go closer to the bones and be more prices.

The cranky chef acknowledged that I had succeeded in filleting the fish, but, I had not achieved the task without error ("teaching" as an achievement).

Given the practical nature of the task the visual example was sufficient in showing me how to, A. fillet a fish, but B. Not do it to save on waste, decrease the profit margins and provide the best possible product for another product. If these examples were verbalised to me when the example was being shown to me I would know the importance of making sure the fish was filleted properly. The assumption of the Chef to think I knew all this based upon the knowledge I had filleted a different fish under different circumstances only encouraged the problem.

This analysis only reiterates the importance of knowing your learners limits, and developing their experiences using the scaffold of the Dimensions of Learning (Marzano and Pickering, 2006). The attitude of the cranky chef made me hesitate asking for further help and understanding, DIM 1 Experience a sense of comfort, DIM 2 Integrating (my previous experiences to the new task) declarative and procedural knowledge, DIM 3 Comparing and analysing errors (between his example and mine), DIM 4 Problem solving (Making me aware of what and where I was going wrong), DIM 5 Be accurate and seek accuracy (rectify my mistakes).

The Dimensions of Learning (Marzano and Pickering, 2006) can be adapted to any content area as a comprehensive approach for “Teacher” or student directed instructions. Having an understanding of the Dimension’s approach to learning can only help your “Teaching” practices.




Marzano, R.,J.,Pickering,D.,J.(2006), Dimensions of Learning Teachers Manual, Heatherton, Victoria, Hawker Brownlow Education Australia.


  1. Great insights Shaun. I am really enjoying your blog! Keep up the good work :)


  2. Thanks Kelly,

    Im really enjoying the medium of the course at the moment, looking forward to the rest of it.