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Teachers as Risk Managers


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Robert Heiny submitted a new blog post:

Teachers as Risk Managers

TEACHERS FUNCTION IN SOCIETY AS MANAGERS OF RISKS (TRM) of students failing to learn (FTL) how to know and do what the most informed people in society know and do. From a learners' view (ALV), risks exist in lessons, not in the environment or in the people involved in those lessons. Teachers use lessons to prevent failure to learn and to contain results that might occur from that failure.

A risk is the chance (a probability) that something harmful will occur, in this case, that learners will not learn a lesson. That is, actual results from a lesson are different from planned results. Risk includes the possibility of losing some or all of the time and other resources used by learners and teachers in a lesson, because students do not learn that lesson.
Teachers as Risk Takers

Teachers, by their social role, are the risk-takers. They willfully expose themselves to one or more risks that their students will fail to learn lessons offered. Their exposure occurs through the choices they make while planning and instructing lessons. While risks seem to exist in all social activities, planning and instructing lessons that accelerate, increase, and deepen (AID) learning - managing and containing risks of failing to learn - is the crucial part of teaching. Without AIDing learning, the role of teaching does not exist; the activities of people with the title of teacher become as social workers, nurses, or fill some other use in society.

Teachers manage risks by choosing how closely their lessons match choices learners will likely make while trying to learn lessons. Risk of FTL exists to the extent choices by teachers do not match choices learners will most likely make while learning each lesson. Lack of matching creates a hazard to learning, that is, a risk of failure to learn. The risk factor is the element - in this instance teachers' choices - in lessons that data show predisposes a learner to fail to learn.

In this way, the risk factor of FTL in the lesson resides in teachers' choices. For example, a teacher who uses a visual underline to emphasize a step during instruction creates a risk of the blind student failing to learn that lesson. That student does not sense the cue, so for that student the emphasis does not exists. To reduce that risk, the teacher could use tactile or auditory emphases instead of just a visual cue. In this way, teachers choose through lessons the level of risk students will have of failing to learn that lesson.

A 1.0 lesson has a low risk of failure with all students meeting academic performance standards the teacher sets for that lesson. A 0.0 lesson has high levels of risk with no students learning the lesson. Most lessons by most teachers appear to offer levels of risk someplace between these two extremes. Over many lessons with many students, they yield a so called normal distribution of learners, a few learning all of the lessons, a few not learning them, and most learning some of the lessons.
Related Reading

  1. Analysis of Risk of Failure to Learn

  2. Behind Classic Education: A Learners' View (ALV)
  3. Risk
  4. Technical-Scientific Literacy of Educators (TSLE)

Related Resources

  1. Ali, S. H. (2000). Risk: A Book Review. Canadian Journal of Sociology Online. Captured 09-29-20 AM.
  2. Lupton, D. (1999). Risk. NY: Routlage.
  3. Risk

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