Margaret Mead

"An anthropologist looks at the teacher's role."

Educational methods 21: 219-223, 1942.

A first great shift in the role of the teacher came with the invention of the school and the implicit assumption that through the school the number of persons who shared any skill could be enormously extended. As long as the teaching-learning relationship was between one teacher and one pupil, or even one teacher and three or four-if he happened to be specially skilled or famed -the whole emphasis was upon passing on tradition, in single threads, from one human being to another. With the school and its basic premise, many more students than teachers, this relationship was upset and the school became an instrument, not merely to perpetuate the past, but to alter the proportionate relationships between those who knew and those who did not know how to write, or calculate or read Latin. This shift made the teacher the ally of a child's future in a different way than he had been in the past. The teacher no longer merely supplemented the parent, teaching the child a particular set of charms or a particular fishing method, but he opened the way for the child to go where his parents had never been, into a different stratum of society. The teacher became the instrument of social mobility, an important role in societies where social mobility was highly valued. (p. 220)

[rest of text]

Sunday, October 22, 2000