There is ongoing confusion linked to teaching and authority.
Traditional education established the idea that in the classroom there is one person who knows and leads the learning, that person is the teacher. Students understood the idea that the teacher knows, has the answer and is there to explain what’s right.
Asking the teacher then serves two purposes: either having an answer as to what to do or receiving validation for an idea expressed and questioned.
It established a shortcut: when people don’t know what to do or don’t understand what is meant they revert to asking the person who has the authority.
Often it isn’t very clear if they do it because of their own perception that it is a quick and efficient way, or if it is because of the story they tell themselves about understanding the material.
It’s the fine line where people could also choose to do the work to figure things out on their own.
One of the places where I experienced a different approach was the altMBA.
As participants, we had a clear invitation to figure the things out on our own.
To do so, we had been reminded of a simple three-step process. The first step was to go back to the prompts and read them again, taking the time to understand as much of it as possible. If that didn’t help enough, the next step was to come together in the assigned learning groups and figure things out together. There the group could even train its ability to make decisions and determine together which way we would move forward. And if even the learning group couldn’t figure out how to proceed we could revert to the cohort.
Instead of taking our questions and answering them, our coaches would take a step back to see if we had done our work to figure things out. If not, they gave us a crystal ball.
The beauty of that reaction was that we all trained self-efficacy and developed our ability to create results as a group. It didn’t change our perception of authority. But it changed our ability to figure things out on our own.