An old teaching saying states that a teacher can be either a “sage on the stage” or a “guide on the side.” Modern technology provides many opportunities to have a “stage on the stage,” so it’s believed by many that today’s teacher should be a “guide on the side.”
“In the open classroom, the teacher’s role should be as a guide on the side, rather than a sage on the stage” was cited in print in August 1972. “There’s an old adage that a teacher can be either a sage on the stage or a guide on the side” was cited in print in 1977. “Be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage” was said in 1994 to be a catchy—but shopworn—phrase.
6 August 1972, Southern Illinoisan (Carbondale, IL), “Informal, open classroom education returns: Rural school practices revived” by Sandra Holter, pg. 63A, col. 4:
“In the open classroom, the teacher’s role should be as a guide on the side, rather than a sage on the stage,” Taylor said.
(Roger Taylor, a doctoral student at Southern Illinois University—ed.)
14 September 1972, The Register-News (Mt. Vernon, IL), “Marion Gifted Program: Roger Taylor New Education Consultant,” pg. 8-B,
Roget Taylor, 27, is the new consultant in the Area Service Center for Educators of Gifted Children, in Marion.
“Every child should be allowed to develop at his own rate,” said Taylor, “and if the teacher is a guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage, the child will learn naturally.”
30 November 1974, Daily Facts (Redlands, CA), “Calimesa students get new course in science,” pg. 4, col. 3:
“The teacher’s function is to create a favorable environment for learning,” Speach added. In essence, the teacher moves from ‘sage on the stage’ to ‘guide on the side.’ Children and teachers are learning to explore together.”
(Steven F. Speach, Calimesa school principal—ed.)
7 June 1977, Chronicle-Telegram (Elyria, OH), “Elyria West English teachers finally heard as well as seen” by Andy Young, pg. 11, col. 2:
“THERE’S AN old adage that a teacher can be either a sage on the stage or a guide on the side. We are the guides on the side. It’s going to take time for the kids to adapt to that.”
(Larry Oros, EWHS English department chairman—ed.)
17 June 1985, The Oregonian (Portland, OR), “TAG class enjoys extra challenges, responsibility” by Fran Jones, pg. B4, col. 1:
Pouliot (Bonnie Pouliot, the TAG teacher—ed.) has set standards for herself as well. Her philosophy is expressed in the words on the wall: “Your teacher is a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.”
The Educator’s Guide to Preventing Child Sexual Abuse
By Mary Nelson and Kay Clark
Santa Cruz, CA: Network Publications
A trainer of teachers is, at best, a “guide on the side,” not, as so often happens, a “sage on the stage.”
19 May 1988, Los Angeles (CA) Times, Math in Alhambra, Pasadena Schools to Benefit From Grant” by Patricia Ward Biederman, San Gab riel Valley, pg. 6:
One aim of the program is to teach the teacher to become “a guide on the side” instead of “a sage on the stage,” Hakansson said.
Google News Archive
7 December 1988, Milwaukee (WI) Sentinel, “Teacher of the Year’s goal is to guide” by Margaret Houk, pt. 3, pg. 1, col. 2:
“Instead of being the sage on the stage, the teacher must be a guide on the side.”
-- BILL COLLAR,
Wisconsin’s Teacher of the Year
A Resource Guide for Effective Teaching in Postsecondary Education:
Planning for Competence
By Richard D. Kellough
Lanham, MD: University Press of America
Traditionally, an instructor is an information giver, a “sage-on-the-stage,” while in a more modern style the instructor facilitates student learning, taking less of a center-stage role, is a “guide-on-the-side.”
Increasing College Faculty Instructional Productivity (Issue 4)
By David W. Johnson, Roger T. Johnson and Karl A. Smith
Washington, DC: Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University
Sage on the Stage, Or Guide on the Side?
Each class session, instructors must choose whether to be “a sage on the stage” or “a guide on the side.”
OCLC WorldCat record
From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side.
Author: Alison King
Edition/Format: Article : English
Publication: College Teaching, v41 n1 p30-35 Win 1993
Database: ERIC The ERIC database is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education.
Summary: It is proposed that, in the current constructivist approach to learning, the teacher’s role is less that of transmitting knowledge, more that of facilitating learning in less directive ways. Techniques for promoting active learning, guided reciprocal peer-questioning, and cooperative learning in the college classroom based on this approach are discussed. (MSE)
Information Literacy in an Information Society:
A Concept for the Information Age
By Christina S. Doyle
Syracuse, NY: ERIC Clearinghouse on Information & Technology, Syracuse University
No longer will the traditional approach of the teacher as “sage on the stage” be appropriate. The role of the teacher will become “guide on the side,” to facilitate students’ learning. In the preparation of lifelong learners, assessments of success will be made by students as well as by teachers, and students will learn how to organize their own resources.
November 1, 1994
The Art Of Coaching
One of the more interesting ideas to emerge from the current school reform movement is that teachers should be more like coaches. The catchy—already shopworn—phrase is: “Be a guide on the side, not a sage on the stage.’’ In context, that seems to mean that teachers shouldn’t talk at students all the time but should point them in the right direction and encourage them. They should help students but press them to be responsible for their own learning.
On The Quiet Shore
November 14, 2012 · 2:15 pm
“Sage on the Stage” to “Guide on the Side”
On Faculty Development day, there was much talk about how to “flip” the classroom with technology, many paeans to how great it would be to have ipads for every student, much discussion of how to move the professor’s role from “sage on the stage” to “guide on the side,” some bewailing of how, in the modern educational environment faced with MOOCs, our own role as in-person pedagogues seemed less and less important.