Guide on the Side vs. Sage on the Stage

Recently I was speaking with a small group and mentioned that my style was to be the “Guide on the Side” instead of the “Sage on the Stage”. This is a phrase I picked up from my time hanging about with classroom teachers. The source for this phrase is from  1993 article by Professor Alison King.

Here’s what the phrases mean. Well, really what I mean, within the context of financial education and learning. Feel free to chime in by making a comment below.

Sage on the Stage: In the old days, the teacher was the only one talking and spent all of her/his time in the front of the room talking offering knowledge to their students. Very little feedback was sought and was often punished if unwanted comments or questions were asked. Did you have any educational experiences like this?

As with other institutions, there was only one perspective shared and/or valued. You had to conform to the teacher’s style.

Students were expected to listen, take notes, memorize, then regurgitate upon request.

Guide on the Side: Using this style, the educator/leader walks along side the students, instead of leading from the front. I am reminded of Paulo Freire when I think of this:

“It should not involve one person acting on another, but rather people working with each other. Too much education, Paulo Freire argues, involves ‘banking’ – the educator making ‘deposits’ in the educatee.” (Source the non-profit site infed.org)

Ô Homi (Paulo Freire)

Ô Homi (Paulo Freire) (Photo credit: paulicasantos)

When I work with clients, I want to be their “Guide on the Side”. Sometimes people say to me, ” I don’t know anything at all about money/investing/finances”. Well, of course you do. That is a given. How much do you need to know? That is a subject for a first meeting…And a two-way conversation.

First, I like to learn about your family lessons about money, finances and savings, plus how you have implemented those lessons-or not.

  • Are you a spender or a saver?
  • How much financial news do you consume?
  • What worries you?
  • What do you take pleasure in doing?

My job is to help you move forward from where you are; after understanding about how you got there. It is an interactive experience, where your perspective matters-a lot. If we don’t move forward together, we go nowhere.

education

education (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

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