The term “Learning through Relationships” is something that has interested me over a number of years; building and understanding our student’s situation, their abilities, skills and knowledge, working life and their passion for developing a positive future.
How do we teach through relationships? What does that even mean? That was my response when I began working at a school that holds teaching through relationships as a core value. Teaching through relationships means that teachers who have knowledge about their students will be better able to teach them. It is a fundamental idea that most progressive educators have long embraced, but teaching through relationships is more than that.
Ultimately, it describes the complex social environment in which students and teachers converse, share experiences, and participate in activities that, together, make for engaged learning, it embeds formal knowledge in the world in which it actually belongs and from which it is born: that of the complex, historical, and social world of being human.
While maintaining the formal relationship between students and teachers, teaching through relationships, when done well, recognizes the human stories of the learners themselves (they are not blank slates), as well as that of the teacher. It is an approach that embraces our complex identities, biographies, and the stories we bring that serve to humanize the subjects we teach.
Making these complexities part of our teaching "mix" helps to expand our knowledge beyond the artificial confines of a particular discipline. Teaching through relationships passes the student through that mystical threshold when formal knowledge leads to hidden knowledge. What is hidden is the process of discovery itself and the connections between thought, everyday life, and other seemingly unrelated ideas and disciplines. When students are able to make this connection via "teaching through relationships," they begin to see themselves as co-learners along with their teachers, as well as with the greatest minds in history.
Putting into practice is getting to know the students' learning styles and where they are in terms of their knowledge, abilities, and potential. More importantly, it also means getting to know their interests, personality, and background. For the teacher, this body of knowledge opens up the possibilities of growth and dramatic learning opportunities. Taking time to get to know your students will better help communicate the formal aspects of the curriculum. It helps facilitate the possible connections you make. It alerts each student that he or she is seen as another being and, in response, makes them all more attentive.
Ref: Stacey Goodman – Eutopia Collaborative Learning February 2015