Sunday, 3 November 2013

Morgan Ngata: Heutagogy on my Mind!!

Karyn’s Introduction:

There is a lot of rhetoric around the concept of lifelong learning. I think Morgan hits a few metaphoric nails on the head with his post.

Heutagogy on my mind !!

At Te Karaka Area School (TKAS) we believe in helping learners to take increasing responsibility for their own learning, and behavior.
As a first year teacher, I was so focused on “doing” the teaching that I truly don’t recall giving this statement that much thought. My degree is in Biology with a minor in applied stats. While I’m proud of this achievement and these are great areas of knowledge to have acquired, I’m learning it’s not the subject knowledge that is truly valuable to our learners but instead how I learned that is of true value. As a second year teacher this message is beginning to resonate in my mind with increasing frequency. 
While at university I discovered that I have dyslexia. It answered several personal questions that I held for a long time. Being dyslexic has resulted in me developing some fairly strong tendencies towards being organised, especially when it comes to learning. I often write ideas as I read…(sometimes I seem to be writing more than actually reading…) I tend to lay out ideas in a mind map/brainstorm type of chart. I use color, symbols and link ideas with arrows. This afternoon, as I was developing a concept map to help layout a professional project, it became apparent how this type of process was key for my learning at Uni.  Using tools like concept maps effectively allowed me to structure my learning. It allowed me to capture and examine direct and indirect relationships between separate ideas and facts .… That’s when the penny dropped…that’s what we need to be developing in class. It’s all about the hows’ not the whats. Seems pretty easy. Yet I’ll be the first to admit, this shift has taken me a while to process. It appears to me to become an effective teacher we may need to address some existing ideas & practices.
(Side note: It’s funny, it’s the challenge of dyslexia in my personal learning that could potentially be of more value towards becoming an effective teacher than the actual subjects that I am qualified in. …(Hmmm how much is my current student loan??)

Stewart Hase, in his Blog titled “The Education Fox Trot” has described this focus on learning as a dance. I agree with this idea as long as it’s a dance where each partner shares taking the lead. This idea is a cool reference to a teaching/learning concept from the Maori called Ako. Essentially it acknowledges the reciprocal nature of teaching & learning as being dynamic. The significant point for me however is the statement that;

“A good deal of schooling involves learning how to be a good student and unlearning how to be a learner.”

I like how he is signifying a difference between being a student and being a learner. I think this is an apt description of what I’m experiencing as a teacher. Does becoming a teacher require our students to unlearn how to be a learner? Maybe there needs to be a similar differentiation between being a teacher and being a learner. What is a successful teacher/learner? I’m beginning to see how my initial notion of being a teacher is no longer relevant. Initially I had some clear ideas about teaching, but they seemed to interfere with much of the learning. Is it a case of asking “Do I want to be a teacher or a learner?” If so, I’m choosing the latter. I believe I’ll be better at my profession by dong so. 

As I wrote above TKAS has a focus of learners taking increasing responsibility in learning and behavior. Professionally I think that’s what we teachers all need to do to.


  1. Awesome bro. Love it how in those moments of clarity it all seems so simple eh. We all take time to process these things and we all do it our own way. Awesome insights into your thinking!

  2. How interesting that you discovered at university you are dyslexic. How did you discover that?

    I like the "dance" concept. It suggests that teaching and learning are not mutually exclusive. Nor that either is dependent on conscious intent.

  3. Truly one to be admired is one who has continued to persevere through obstacles
    in education from childhood, to bring passion and inspiration that is personally authentic. You walk the talk, I've learnt so much from observing your character in action...