Of Dogs and Masters/Learners and Instructors

March 27, 2011

“’It’s not going to work. This is a case that is not going to work, because the owner doesn’t want to allow what you normally do with your kids . . . . The hardest part for me is that the father or mother chooses the dog instead of the son. That’s hard for me. I love dogs. I’m the dog whisperer. You follow what I’m saying? But I would never choose a dog over my son’“ (Cesar Millan quoted by Gladwell p. 148 ).

Anyone who has watched the Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan, in action may have the misunderstanding that it’s all about the dog, his perspective, and his needs. Yet, Millan would tell you it’s not dog over human or human over dog; it’s about the interaction and relationship between the two.

When I read the above passage in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent compilation of his New Yorker articles in What the Dog Saw, it reminded me of the reaction some educators have to learner-centered learning. They think it means giving all the preference to the learners, without boundaries.

Those of us training experienced instructors who are new to, and nervous about, online delivery would do well to remember that learner-centered isn’t a shift of power but a shift of perspective.

~Lisa

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