In hundreds of research studies of teachers, instruction, and pedagogical practice, the one clear finding is we do not know enough about how someone learns and to what extent teaching shapes learning. Generally, educators believe the advancement of learning comes when teachers consistently exhibit certain traits. There is a direct and positive correlation between teachers who exhibit these traits and student learning. No one argues that instructional strategies can enhance or detract from student learning. What is arguable is how to have consistency in teaching practice and measure student learning—the connection between teaching and learning.
The Core Curriculum movement and Standards-Based Classroom design was theoretically the bridge connecting teaching to learning. The theoretical driving concept is that every teacher adopts and consistently produces the exact same instructional environment by modeling exemplary teachers' practices. Once there is consistency in instructional practices or teacher efficacy (standardization), student learning becomes measurable by standardized assessments.
The correlation between instructional practice (teaching) and mastery of the curriculum (learning) is quantifiable. Quantifiable means educators can tweak instructional methods to maximize learning efficiency. If it all sounds very industrial, engineered, and manufactured, that's because it is! Nearly all of the teaching and learning concepts are behavioral theories. The theories have a historical basis in an industrialized notion of production and measurement of quality.
A more modern approach is the approach of curriculum theorists who believe the connection between teaching and learning is experiential. Learning is more than the assessment of discrete facts; it is how knowledge is applied to challenges presented daily. Think of it this way. The average student is in a classroom for approximately 1100 hours each academic year. If a student is in front of a teacher on task, 75% of the time, the student will have about 825 hours of actual instructional time.
The average teenager is on social media, computer, or watching television for approximately 1,560 hours per year (Some studies report significantly more.). Which do you think has a more significant influence on student learning? Curriculum theorists believe learning is a sum of all of a person's experiences. The connection to teaching occurs when the learning involves instruction directly related to a person's unique daily experience.
Experiential learning is much less quantifiable and assumes a person has a natural proclivity to learn even in the absence of direct instruction by a teacher. The old familiar adage is "experience is the best teacher." The connection between teaching and learning is personal and internalized by each unique person, as we all have different experiences. This in no way should be construed as denigrating towards teachers who improve their instructional practice. Next to classroom management, instructional practice is extraordinarily significant in developing students' academic and social learning needs.
Teaching is connected to learning when defined more broadly than what one gets in a classroom setting. Experience may be as relevant as, if not more important than, instructional practice if the practice is not related to how a student experiences life.