The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)

Learners are ultimately responsible for the effectiveness of teaching

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/12/2016 Category: Education
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 515 times Debate No: 94656
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learners need to take responsibility for the learning a teacher can do everything in their power to teach the student but the student will not learn anything unless he/she wants to.


Hi Djohn,
For the purpose of consistency, and so that we have mutual understanding of the topic, I am going to put your argument into my own words. Please correct me if I have misunderstood your position.

"Learners need to take responsibility for the learning. A teacher can do everything in their power to teach the students, but the student will not learn anything unless he/she wants to" (Djohn24, 2016).

In other words, "If the student does not learn during class, and fails tests or assignments; it is not necessarily the teachers failure, but instead it is the students failure."

I will cite sources for my arguments, which will be online so you will have access to them. I would appreciate the same in return. Also, I apologize for all of the references to chemistry and biology. These are the subjects I know best, and so they are the examples I chose to use; in any other field I am sure there are also exemplars to my position.

Argument 1: Effective teachers provide education to student based on what we know about how the brain stores information.

The two most important concepts for successful learning in my opinion are:

1."Students learn new ideas by relating them to what they already know" (Bruno, 2015, para. 4).
2."Students remember information better when they are given many opportunities to practice retrieving it from their long-term memories" (Bruno, 2015, para. 5).

To grasp most concepts, it is important that the student has an understanding of the level of complexity just below what they are learning. For example: The level of complexity right below biology, is chemistry; so by reviewing the chemistry behind biological processes, teachers can help students develop a deeper understand of the information.
By doing so, students have context for the new information, and have farther solidified the material they had learned previously.

Argument 2: New information must be presented in a way that someone with little, or no, experience can understand.

Einstein once said, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough." In all educational subjects, connections can easily be made between new information and old information. If the teacher fails to see these connections, she cannot explore them with her students, and she does not understand the material well enough.
For example: an understanding of skin cancer must be paired with an understanding of UV radiation. Visible light has wavelengths that are that same size as the light sensitive cells inside our eyes. Visible light waves aren"t small enough to penetrate into the cell, unlike UV radiation " so some UV rays are small enough that they can pass into cell nuclei, disturb molecules of DNA, and suppress genes responsible for controlling cell division.

If the teacher does not understand both concepts, effective learning is more difficult, and results in a decreased likelihood that the learner will retain the information.

Argument 3: Teachers must offer support to their students, allowing them to experience success, which inspires learners to continue learning.

Success motivates us. When we succeed our brains release a neurotransmitter called dopamine, which is the same substance methamphetamine hijacks in cases of meth addiction. "Collecting wins, no matter how small, can chemically wire you to move mountains by causing a repeated release of dopamine" (Mehta, 2013, para. 8).

For example: by presenting students with easily understood information, then giving them a small pop quiz immediately after, they will be more likely to embrace the information in light of their success. Eventually, we become addicted to success, as meth users are addicted to dopamine.

In conclusion, teachers are far more responsible for academic achievement than the students they teach. By approaching learners from a biologically motivated perspective, we can not only teach the subject they are there to learn, but we can also improve their abilities to learn on their own through repetition, simple explanation, and frequent episodes of success.


Bruno, P. (2015). How people learn: an evidenced-based approach. Edutopia. Retrieved from

Mehta, M. (2013). Why our brains like short-term goals. Entrepreneurs. Retrieved from
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Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by nerdhayne 1 year ago
I really appreciate the research and application examples that went into this explanation about the type of responsibilities that the teacher has in motivating, connecting with, and providing experience for the student. One point that I would like to mention is that I really believe that not all teachers truly understand how the brain functions when learning is taking place. As a Biology teacher, I am aware of the idea of brain training with positive feedback, but I would argue that many of my colleagues have never been taught how this works. Along with this, I believe that it is worth mentioning that the brain is not always in a good place for learning. Fear and anxiety alone can trigger chemical changes in the brain that inhibit learning (Steimer, 2002). Sometimes teachers can help lower this, but it often has much more to do with the student's situation at home, with friends, or anxiety about a course or material.

When determining the level of thinking and learning that a student does, we should be careful not to overlook the affective domain of Bloom's taxonomy as well (Clark, 2015). Again, in this arena, the teacher can do everything in their power to activate these levels, but much of the responsibility is on the learner.

With all that being said, not all teachers know about how stress affects learning either. If teachers comprehensively and continuously trained in these areas, I believe there would be a greater increase in learning success.

Clark, D. (2015). Bloom"s Taxonomy of learning domains. Retrieved from

Steimer, T. (2002). The biology of fear- and anxiety-related behaviors. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 4(3), 231"249.
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