Sunday, November 05, 2006

Will says DO IT! but they turn the other cheek

Will posts a much needed rev up in owning the teaching... and the learning.
We go back and forth in this community about whether teachers who use blogs should blog, or podcast or read RSS feeds. I’ve always hesitated to come down on one side or the other in that debate for a variety of reasons. But it’s become clear to me that the answer has to be yes. If you are an educator, I think you have little choice but to choose option 3 in the Marco Torres mantra: “You can complain, quit or innovate.” I know in many ways it stinks to have to be an educator at a moment in history when things are changing on a glacial scale. But what you signed up for is preparing kids for their futures. You have little choice but to deal.

I'd like to second Will and say that I am also concerned that we are not seeing true and honest attempts to change systems and practices in a way that is better suited to the new world we are heading towards. I share his sense of urgency about it. But more and more, I think I'm realising that the changes we hope for will not come. The changes are happening outside the classroom walls (as always) and so the schools are becoming even more irrelevant to real life. Perhaps we are mistaken in the first place in our thinking that the formal education systems have any significant bearing on our socialisation... perhaps we are contribution to the blockage by attributing more significance than is warranted to the teachers, and thus failing to see what experiences are really important to a person's learning. Perhaps we might do better refocusing our efforts away from schools and teachers, and more towards community groups, parents, home-schoolers, scouts and sporting clubs etc.

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Lynette said...

People learn through a variety of mediums, many of them social. I talk in my blog about the community as a proctective factor in teenagers lives and discuss how the lack of community networks impacts on adolescents social and emotional wellbeing. Historically we lived in small communities and the entire community was responsible for, and involved in, raising the younger generation. Schools do not have to be the sole vehicle for educating our young people. As you say, maybe we are mistaken "in our thinking that the formal education systems have any significant bearing on our socialisation". Young people are influenced by a variety of factors, many of them are not associated/connected with school. There is a whole world beyond the four walls of the class room in which young people engage every day. And for our most at risk students school does not factor, they are learning through their social networks, their teachers are their peers. However it is accepted (or expected) that young people attend formal institutions to gain an education.

Ewan McIntosh said...

But students can attend institutions which reflect the real world, too. When reading blogs on my old feedreader I have to triple check who is writing and where from, because words along the lines of "we are not seeing true and honest attempts to change systems and practices" are huge generalisations, when there are some great examples of institutional change and willingness to adopt rather than die. I can only speak for my own education system - Scotland - but see change afoot elsewhere, even over the border in England ;-)

The world's a big place, and while Scotland may only be a relative pocket with its 5 million population, I'm sure there are other pockets of curricular innovation we just don't know about which will help make the whole, sooner and hopefully not too much later.

Leigh Blackall said...

Yes, of course there are Ewen. A link or two to what you are talking about would be helpful. I post to this blog everything that comes my way to this effect. Such as this just last week.

Guy Barry said...

Maybe a bit more clarity in your answers would help,don't you think?

Val Evans said...

Patience is a virtue Leigh. I was around when computers were first introduced into education (and TAFE NSW) and have seen lots of advances since then. Sure, it happens slowly - change usually does! Revisiting theories of change might help - refer to RIPPLES developed by Dan Surrey and recently introduced to us by Marie Jasinski, and Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, and others.

I know, it is hard to wait when you know how powerful this stuff is, but it will happen in time.

Leigh Blackall said...

No, I don't believe it Val. Change can happen very quickly, for an individual. Change can happen quickly to a family. Change can happen suddenly in TALO, but big fat bad arse orgs like schools, colleges, churches and gaols that's where it happens slowly. And while the gate keepers keep it all chugging along, burning out the change agents and assimilating their practices uncredited, they go and introduce censorship software and ban devices. Nope, change doesn't happen slowly, it doesn't happen at all. It just gets absorbed and turned into what was always done. Change happens elsewhere

Val Evans said...

You've got to be motivated to change Leigh. Sure it CAN happen quickly but it depends on what's pushing the change - my life changed drastically when my partner became ill so instead of still commuting 4 hrs a day, I work from home in my own paradise - I had to change! Otherwise the lure of that final super package and my age probably would have kept me in the same place for another 5 years.

And some people love change - personally I do! Restructures always interested me (not inspired me) - my section was hit 7 times in 5 years! Each change provided new opportunities.

I agree with you about the bureaucracies making it churn at a slow pace (my words) and share your frustrations Leigh, but I don't think you or I will ever change them. I guess what inspires me is the number of willing innovators out there who will do it despite the bureaucracies.