Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate…

Radio tower

The teacher transmits information to the student.

The textbook transmits information to the student.

The online tutorial or learning software or YouTube video transmits information to the student.


The student’s role is to be the recipient of what is transmitted.

The student’s role is to regurgitate what was transmitted with enough fidelity that the teacher or software system can check off that the student ‘knows’ it.

The student’s role is to be obedient and compliant.


It doesn’t matter if what is transmitted and regurgitated is of interest to the student. 

It doesn’t matter if what is transmitted and regurgitated is meaningful or relevant to the student.

It doesn’t matter if what is transmitted and regurgitated can be found with a quick Google or Siri search.

It doesn’t matter if what is transmitted and regurgitated can’t be applied beyond the narrowly-conscribed classroom setting.

It doesn’t matter if what is transmitted and regurgitated is forgotten by the student just a few weeks later.


What matters is that the student holds in her brain what was transmitted and regurgitated long enough to get the grade. We need to check the box. We need to move on. We have things to cover. Hopefully, enough of what is transmitted and regurgitated will stick – individually and collectively, across all students and all buildings – for those end-of-year assessments of factual and procedural regurgitation that we use to determine educator and school ’success.’


Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate… Why do we believe that this model is adequate for the demands of a complex, global innovation society?


Image credit: Transmitting, Tim Haynes

12 Responses to “Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate. Transmit, regurgitate…”

  1. Scott, you must remember the 3 Rs – Rote, Restraint, Regurgitation.

    • Hi Scott, Thanks for a funny and hypothetical article. I have to disagree With you. if i were you, i would reconsider my assumptions. Yes the teacher, textbook and online material, all transmit material but that’s the end in itself. The goal for the transmission of material in these forums should not be regurgitation but a proper Individual understanding that comes out independent thinking, Critical analysis and even conclusions by the student.
      If regurgitation is the goal, the learning exercise is flawed. Regurgitation doesn’t allow deeper understanding of the subject and it creates a wrong impression that someone has totally understood the subject, yet it might be, they know nothing about the subject. The student should be allowed to interact with the material, and say what they think. Students learning in an environment that encourages critical and independent thinking Will be more equipped to engage all sorts of content in the real world.

  2. This is a great metaphor for what Paulo Freire calls banking education.
    I recently read in an article (my apologies, but I can’t find the reference) about how Japan’s hierarchical education system stifles innovation and has led to that country’s loss of leadership in technology. So, to answer your question, I don’t understand how some people could see this model (transmit-regurgitate) as remotely appropriate for today’s global innovation society.

  3. Fabio Castellanos Reply October 7, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Well, I think that the model is partially adequate for today. Yes, partially adequate because although we are in that “global, innovation and complex society” we need foundations, axioms, and bases that support the rest of the building.
    We CANNOT do Engineering without Maths, Theology without a history of religions, Philosophy without logic…those elements must be understood prior further constructions.
    Then, for the foundations this nasty system bust be used, for the walls and roof, you can use other colors and materials.

  4. I think the world is moving towards a wrong direction in matters related to education. Transmitting and regurgitating is not learning at all but a form of stuffing information that has no relevance to the student only to be expected to deliver it when requested. This is not teaching neither does it qualify to be called learning. True learning in its definition where the student is able to interact with material, put it in his/her own words, and experience and make sense out of it.

  5. So true… “This is not teaching neither does it qualify to be called learning”… so true… But the words sound so frightening. One wonders if it is really something left from my teaching practices that is real teaching and learning, after all that can be found on google, will be soon forgoten, is not applicable outside my classroom is removed… (I didn’t dare mention: is of no “interest to the student”)

  6. Transmission and regurgitation is easier, so perhaps that’s why it remains popular. There is little work involved in simply telling someone something you know, and asking them to repeat it. In some cases, students are also ore comfortable with this methodology. It requires less involvement and participation from them.

  7. This type of learning reminds me of secondary school where we were required to regurgitate the information to the teacher. Some students like this method because it does not require much effort from them. However, on the other hand today’s students are very inquisitive and like to ask questions. In this way they form their own opinion about things.

  8. This method is very common in my country. Students are required to listen to their teachers and repeat. If they ask many questions they will be marked as bad students. I think teachers do not do enough study before teaching. For this reason they just deliver the message and are scared to face their limitations.

  9. Scott,
    The model of teaching and learning you propagate does not wholesomely work in every other situation. Context sometimes, determines what sort of teaching and learning model would best fit. Generalization of teaching and learning models can be hazardous.

    Transmit-regurgitate model is also referred to as banking model where a teacher expects the students to get and memorize whatever he or she transmits. This kind of approach produces less critical- minded graduates who when employed struggle to bring innovative ideas to the organization. The products of this model when employed normally would wait to be told what to do.

    I think, good teaching models should be able to transform a student academically, spiritually as well as ministerial. As I look at this model being pursued in your article, it cannot effectively bring this desired outcome.

    Therefore, I do not totally support the generalization of this teaching and learning model.

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