Is the idea of an “M” assuming the role of a facilitator in mature fields based on American cultural values? Could it be that such a role would not be seen as desirable in many host cultures?

This disturbing question hit me as I listened to the recent Missio Nexus webinar led by Craig Ott on “Teaching and Learning Across Cultures” (Webinar: Teaching and Learning Across Cultures - Missio Nexus). He suggested that most Americans value a facilitative education in which teachers facilitate a learning process in which learners actively process information and discover knowledge for themselves. That value conflicts directly with beliefs about education in many parts of the world that value the teacher as the expert who delivers knowledge to learners who passively receive information from the teacher and try to master it. The difference in world views is illustrated from his handout below.

Any American who has tried to teach in a culture more collectivistic than our own (virtually everywhere in the world) easily relates to Ott’s observations and knows the frustration of trying to get learners to engage in the process when they are expecting simply to receive the wisdom coming from the teacher. Ott’s webinar then offers some suggestions for increasing student engagement but fails to dig into what we should do about the conflicting values.

GP has been promoting the facilitator role as the preferred approach for M’s in phase 4/5 fields. But have we simply been promoting an American value and ignoring how host cultures would have us to position ourselves? What is the alternative?

I’ve only questions right now. I’m hoping you have some answers.


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