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Inside Dental Technology
May 2022
Volume 13, Issue 5

Let’s Take Some ‘Educational’ Responsibility

Malcolm Knowles was a 20th-century American educator well known for using the term andragogy to describe the art and science of adult learning based on self-directed, independent learning methods. This theory asserts that learning programs must support the notion that adults are self-driven and take responsibility for their decisions. I largely support and agree with the adult learning concepts Knowles taught, including the key point that adults are motivated to learn based on the need for immediate value. For most of us, immediate value is usually driven by financial reward and/or promotion, and our focus on improving is based upon the need and desire for that.

Despite the recognition of self-motivation for personal improvement, I fully support the concept of sharing education, which I believe has greatly improved over the years in our field. Many of us remember a time when we would walk by the desk of a "lead technician" who would quickly turn away to prevent observation of his or her work. For the most part, I believe and hope that this attitude has changed, and that more people are now willing to share their knowledge for the betterment of our profession. With this willingness, however, comes a responsibility. It is vital that we become fully prepared as educators so that we may properly share our knowledge for our profession's further improvement. Several factors should be considered. Who are the educators? Are these educators competent in their skills of learning and teaching? Whom are we teaching in today's environment?

In my opinion, many of today's educators are owners, managers, and individual technicians with knowledge to share. Additionally, they are lecturers—both laboratory and clinical—and our technical college professors, who potentially have the most influence on recruitment of new technicians. Regarding the question of competency, we must have a thorough knowledge of existing products and technology with a desire to continue our education in these areas. Perhaps more importantly, we must recognize our weaknesses, with a dedication toward expanding our own knowledge. Lastly, in recognizing the different needs of students, we must appreciate that everyone learns differently and adapt our teaching skills as needed. A didactic approach is critical, but we, ourselves, must learn to grow, adapt, and expand our teaching methods to reach all those willing to learn.

I sometimes fear that my frequent use of the word education may belittle its value. However, today more than ever, it is essential to the strength and growth of our profession. We must show responsibility in how we effectively educate and share our knowledge, to further the growth of our industry, and to continue moving in its best direction.

Peter Pizzi, MDT, CDT

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