Harvard Macy Institute Podcast

Season 3 Episode 7: Assumptions about Teaching and Learning with Liz Gaufberg and Shalice McKnight

August 30, 2022

Assumption: Something we take to be true without proof. This simple definition belies the complexity of how our assumptions drive our behavior. Some assumptions are explicit (and we are aware of them), but most are implicit; biases and beliefs under our awareness but still powerfully influencing our actions.

Our assumptions about teaching and learning might require considering some fundamental questions: What is learning? (informative/transformative); What is the difference between teaching and learning? What is the role of a teacher? (Expert? Guide? Coach? Co-learner) Goal of educational institutions? (carry on traditions/make change) In practice, we want to be principle-driven vs. defaulting to formats we are familiar with.

In this episode we speak with Liz Gaufberg and Shalice McKnight about ‘assumptions’, particularly our assumptions about teaching and learning.

In our conversation, Shalice and Liz share personal and professional stories of reflection on their assumptions. We discuss core elements of the Harvard Macy Institute Program for Educators in the Health Professions that support this, including the Step Back consultation method in project groups, and Liz’s own sessions in the program. We talk about humble inquiry, the power of listening, and taking just a moment when we think ‘WTF’. (thank you Jenny Rudolph)

Happy listening!

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