Tenets of Authentic Teaching and Learning
Andrew experimenting with a marble machine

Our Collaborative Ideas About Authentic Teaching and Learning: Sue Haynes, Lisa Plourde, Jane Disney, David Lamon, Cathy Kozaryn, Gwenn Kubeck, Tifin Calcagni, Megs Metz, and Sherri Clixby

Authentic Teaching is:

  • Flexible, confident, curious, inspired, intuitive, trusting, and passionate
  • Emphasizing the process of learning vs. the "whatness"
  • Honoring the ripeness of timing
  • Following your heart
  • Finding a place of meaning with your students
  • Trusting that every learner has a story to tell and a way to tell it
  • Trusting that every learner has their own inner wisdom
  • Creating spaces for magic

In Authentic Learning students:

  • set their own learning agendas
  • take responsibility for their learning
  • are agents of their own becoming

Teaching for Personal Empowerment

  • Providing the "container" for safe exploration
    From Marion Woodman in an interview with Michael Toms on the radio program New Dimensions:

...the energetic as well as the physical context in which one works with a learner...a container that loves the child for who she/he is, not what the agenda of the parent or the teacher is--but who is this little creature and what are his desires and his gifts? Who is this little soul who wants to live his own life?

  • Offering genuine choices
    • Variety of activities
    • Ask, "Would you be motivated to do this if I weren't hassling you?"
  • Utilizing curriculum is a means, not a goal
  • Recognizing individual talents and passions within shared community
  • Building on unique assets
  • Inviting the sharing of personal lives including your own
  • Bringing forth the latent potential in each individual

Teacher/Student Relationship

  • Martin Buber's I-Thou relationship:

    Genuine dialogue, like genuine fulfillment of relation involves acceptance of otherness. Influencing the other is not injecting one's own 'rightness' into him but is using one's influence to let what is recognized as right, just, and true take seed and grow in the substance of the other and in the form suited to his individuation.

  • Honoring each individual beyond any labels
  • Collaborating with a spirit of collegiality: all are teachers and all are learners


Martin Buber's "I-Thou" relationship is quoted in The Educated Man: Studies in the History of Educational Thought by Nash, P., Kazamaias, A., Perkinson, H., 1965. New York: E Krieger Publishing Co.


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Sue Haynes •suewhaynes@gmail.com