Why do we teach?


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Through the studying these past couple weeks, we’ve been looking at some of the reasons why we’re teaching. Most of us started with the idea for the students, or learners, but what are we explicitly try to teach them, or what are we teaching them for? What’s the curriculum really about?

One of my presentations is about Paulo Friere and the pedagogy of the oppressed. In order to teach for liberation we need to make sure that we are open to learning about ourselves and using dialogue to empower all learners.

When we really get down into our teaching, when do we oppress some of our learners, who do we silence, whose voices aren’t we listening to or appreciating?

It’s been a lot of reflecting these last couple of weeks, but interesting ideas.

Value laden curriculum


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This week in class (both my doctorate and my grade six class) we have been looking at values and beliefs.  I feel like I explicitly teach the PYP values and explain my own personal values (not that my values, or the PYP values are the values to have, but rather it forms a part of who I am, so students should be aware of them).

Our school had an incredibly provoking speaker come in last week. Peter Daglish works in many different roles, but one of them is with the UN habitat organization that does work in Afghanistan.  He mostly talked about how he works with kids, and what kids can do to make a difference. Again it was very values oriented.

I’ve started to wonder, especially since I’m going to focus mostly on qualitative research, about how important it is to have values, and how we plan with people who have different values than we do.

The learners are headed into the exhibition this week. We as a class are digging deep into our values and beliefs so we can start to take some action. We think that if we know who we are and what we believe it’s easier for us to take action.

It’s going to be an exciting unit.

Perspectives and biases

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Our unit right now looks into the “ethical implications of science”. Recently for my doctorate we’ve been talking about the hidden curriculum or the null curriculum and how that effects how and what we teach. I wanted the class to explore either the ethical implications of school, or the ethical implications of science.

It was a loud hour. I remember one of my PD opportunities when I was in Australia.  The leader had some balls, we were in a circle and he was trying to explain something to us while we had to move the balls around the class.  It turned into a very loud exercise.  The leader reminded us this is sometimes what it’s like to learn. By bringing in new thoughts and new concepts we often had to communicate loudly, or talk it out in order for it to make sense to us.  So I didn’t try to disrupt the loudness too much, instead I just reminded them we had to talk about it before the end of the period.

Despite the noise there were many thoughtful responses to what is being done in science and school, the conversation (happily) didn’t end when the class ended either.  Students were really digging deep to wonder why the believed something, and if what they were doing was “good”.

We’re moving from this unit into our exhibition where we are trying to sort out our values and beliefs and how we express them in our everyday actions, so I think this is a pretty good stepping stone, plus I learned a lot about how and what my co-learners are thinking.

Implicit vs. Explicit teaching


At the Apple Store last week


Often I think about what I am implicitly teaching my students. I wonder if I’m acting appropriately in front of them, if I am speaking about all people mindfully, if I’m always showing respect to the environment around me.  I believe that implicit actions outweigh the benefits of explicit teaching.

Last week I went to see Craig Smith speak about creative music making. I went because I was interested in making music, I learned a lot more about teaching than I thought I would have before setting out that night. While he did talk about skoog, music making, coding and giving everyone a choice I learned more about how to be honest in a class.

I’ve worked with a lot of learning support teachers, and many more regular classroom teachers.  Part of my thesis was on how people act based on their values (often they don’t seem to be aligned in the classroom or regarding curriculum).  I felt like I could tell a lot about what Craig believed just by how he interacted with his audience.

From all the presentations I’ve been too, I never had the sense that the person presenting actually respected and valued everyone, but Craig was different.  In all his mannerisms, his speaking and how he handled everything he just showed a ton of respect.  I came to learn about music making, but left thinking about so much more.

So, thanks Craig.

Stopping consumerism in the Classroom


Well this Saved by the Bell Hooks tumblr site has me pretty intrigued. I wonder about this all the time, especially regarding tech.

So many teachers (it seems like anyway) are focused on what apps to use for learning, and so many of these apps (it seems like) are about consumerism, or button clicking or “gamification” that involves little learning.  I fully want students to create and connect, not just consume. I want them to create for freedom, and to help them become full participants in our society. 
So, I need to really think about how I’m modelling these traits in my own learning journey.  I think this ties nicely into environmental education too, because most people know about climate change but not many people are taking meaningful action (myself included most of the time) to become the change. I’ll be focusing on this through our community building activities online this week.