Saturday, September 26, 2009

It feels wrong

It all feels wrong to me. I wonder why do I feel so uncomfortable when my staff is talking about gaps in our students skills? We need to identify gaps in order to build a school development plan. This should be a good thing shouldn't it? If we want to support our students to be confident participants in the world we need to know what they are doing well and what is missing from their skill set. However I was shocked when what was written on the white board was there needs to be a balance between play and academics in kindergarten. A balance? When did it become a dichotomy? Play vs School? How can we possibly pull the playfulness out of learning as if it where something unrelated? Is "play" a thing now? How can we use an Inquiry approach without playful exploration?
In this blog I have made my view of knowledge well known. I do not think that play is a form of disengaged, disinterested activity of subjectivity. Play is a very serious path to understanding. I think my discomfort indicates that my philosophical beliefs are clashing with the dominate view of the school. While I find myself almost angry my curiosity is taking over. What is the philosophical beliefs of the school? What are the roots of this thinking? How are teachers like me coping with this disconnection? My plan is to now approach this phenomenologically. Why so much emphasis on behaviour? Why so much time spent on testing that will sort our students into leveled learning? How can a scientific model of quantifiable data support inquiry? What does inquiry mean to a behaviourist? What good is inquiry if we have not invested in creating collaborative environment where curiosity and exploration are valued as a way of being in the world?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back in the classroom

My dilemma - another rant:
So I now find myself back in the classroom after 3 years of busying my brain with doctoral thoughts. I have beliefs about the way we learn. I also have deep beliefs about the kind of schools I think we need to be in the 21st Century.
They go something like this:

"We need to stop thinking that the job of schools is to create the 21st century workforce, it's not. The job of our schools is nothing less than to help co-create the 21st-century citizen. We want our kids to be active, engaged citizens of the world. They'll be workers if they are that, too... that part will take care of itself. We want them to be able to engage in the world around them and to make it better. Nothing less than that is our task as educators."
- Chris Lehman

How ever I now have found myself back in the world of...
"the one hundred and one things I have to do every day and who do I need to please now?"
I feel the pressure to make the grade. To measure and to sort learners
into little boxes. How can we expect students to be participants of a connected world if we look at them and their abilities as disconnected little packages of stuff? Schools today are a product of the past. If schools are to become the kind of schools we need... they really need to look hard at disconnecting from the scientific approach of sorting and classifying based on cause and effect testing and reconnect to the more nebulous approach of personal need driven exploratory learning. The only assessment worth doing is self assessment for personal learning within a community of learners.

Do I know what I need to know to do what I want to do?
Well do I? As a researcher in Educational Technology I know the world the teachers live in. You can not expect a teacher to have much time to think about teaching and learning in a digital age when in fact they also live in the world of... 101 things.