The Second Decoupling is Near?


The Second Decoupling will occur when school and learning are in many ways divorced.

I’m really not sure when the Second Decoupling will occur, but one of its key features will be the new role and function of the teacher, especially human teachers who work in school buildings.

Michael Godsey, a teacher, penned an interesting piece in the Atlantic on the evolving role of his profession.

I think some of Michael’s predictions will be born out, while others probably will not.

From the article:

I describe what I think the public-school classroom will look like in 20 years, with a large, fantastic computer screen at the front, streaming one of the nation’s most engaging, informative lessons available on a particular topic. The “virtual class” will be introduced, guided, and curated by one of the country’s best teachers (a.k.a. a “super-teacher”), and it will include professionally produced footage of current events, relevant excerpts from powerful TedTalks, interactive games students can play against other students nationwide, and a formal assessment that the computer will immediately score and record.

Personally, I think we’re more likely to see one-to-one (personalized playlists) more than the streamed super teacher lecture, but who knows.

From the article:

…there will be a local teacher-facilitator (called a “tech”) to make sure that the equipment works and the students behave. Since the “tech” won’t require the extensive education and training of today’s teachers, the teacher’s union will fall apart, and that “tech” will earn about $15 an hour to facilitate a class of what could include over 50 students. This new progressive system will be justified and supported by the American public for several reasons: Each lesson will be among the most interesting and efficient lessons in the world; millions of dollars will be saved in reduced teacher salaries; the “techs” can specialize in classroom management; performance data will be standardized and immediately produced (and therefore “individualized”); and the country will finally achieve equity in its public school system. “So if you want to be a teacher,” I tell the college student, “you better be a super-teacher.”

I don’t think college students will need to become super teachers. My guess is that they will need to learn to co-instruct with technology. This will probably require skills in data analysis, coaching, leadership, and perhaps psychology. I could imagine therapy being a key function of the schools of the future.

From the article:

I’ve started recognizing a common thread to the latest trends in teaching. Flipped learning, blending learning, student-centered learning, project-based learning, and even self-organized learning—they all marginalize the teacher’s expertise. Or, to put it more euphemistically, they all transform the teacher into a more facilitative role.

I’d be a little more specific here: they marginalize the teacher’s content and delivery expertise. As I note above, other skills will become more valuable.

Anyways, there is much to consider about the Second Decoupling.

And that’s enough conjecture from me.

Back to work on the First Decoupling.

5 thoughts on “The Second Decoupling is Near?

  1. renujuneja1

    I agree. The guy is far off. I cannot imagine, for instance, a flipped classroom providing rigorous learning without the teacher orchestrating and guiding it.

  2. Mike G


    Hi Neerav –

    It’s imprecise, I think, that they automatically marginalize the a) content, and b) delivery expertise. Can they? Sure. Is that the goal sometimes? Sure.

    However –

    a. On content, if you’re a teacher who is circulating to help kids who are working on their own, it actually may be MORE important to have content knowledge….the act of quickly “understanding where a kid is stuck, and then choosing what to say to un-stick him” is almost certain HARDER than “delivering the basic explanation to the group.”

    b. On delivery expertise, it depends on what you think of, say, the poet’s skill in tightening language. Does it take more expertise to be long or short?

    If a teacher has 10 minutes to explain what she used to explain in 30 minutes, it could require more, not less, delivery expertise.

    I could explain Relinquishment in 3 minutes. You can (and must) explain it in 30 seconds.

    1. nkingsl

      Mike, good to hear from you. How do you reconcile this with MATCH Tutoring where you have the least experienced folks doing the tutoring?



  3. Mike G


    With same dollars, which is better?

    a. 8 hours a day of 18:1 ratio. That includes classes with circulation where each kid gets 30 to 60 seconds of teacher feedback/interaction per hour. (Where content knowledge helps).


    b. 6 hours a day of 25:1 or whatever and 2 hours a day of 2:1 (with a lesser teacher, called tutor), where kids get a full hour of tutor feedback/interaction (where content knowledge also helps).

    Match answer is b.

    But does Match select tutors in part on content knowledge? Sure.

    1. nkingsl

      Fair comparison. Appreciate the back and forth. Do you have strong opinions on what future role / skills of teacher will need to be?


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