I want to give credit to one of the catalysts for my own educational shift and reflective view of teaching. Changing Educational Paradigms (by Sir Ken Robinson) is media clip that completely changed how I thought of our current educational system. If you haven't seen this before...spend the next 10 minutes re-thinking YOUR educational experience and reflecting on YOUR school memories. If you teach, how can this reshape your view of the classroom? Your school? Your pedagogy? Your approach to students? Your goals?
One of the things that Sir Ken illuminates is the notion that the industrial age-defined classroom has been, largely, left unchanged. Think about how the world has changed in the past 100 years, 50 years, even 10 years. Now think about how many classrooms you could walk into RIGHT NOW and see the following:
- Student desk in rows
- Chalkboard at the front
- Teacher desk in front corner
- Teacher standing at the front
- Filing cabinets filled with worksheets
Are some of these things still practical? Effective? Purposeful? Necessary?
But how many of these things are in place because of familiarity? Conformity? Safety? Tradition?
Now think about how many of these things are in place for student learning.
A classroom is for learning NOT teaching.
Students are tasked with the journey of learning and education. Teachers are tasked with how to facilitate this.
The school day is not block of time to be filled with activities to "keep kids busy." It should be an opportunity to forge positive relationships with students so THEIR learning is facilitated in an appropritately paced and meaningful manner.
If the goal of schools is merely to put in time and have the students feel like they remember something that the teacher has "taught them" by the end of the day - we are doing it all wrong. Because if that's the case, why not set up classroom like movie cinemas and bring in the cozy chairs and snacks?
If all we ask of students is to sit passively and learn through sight and sound alone - how different are we than the movies and television shows that we seem to associate with a negative use of time? No one ever suggests that listening to teachers will rot your brain - but depending on the conditions of learning and structure of the classroom environment - I think there's a possible argument there.
Let's shatter our view of the classroom. Let's allow students to put the pieces together. Facilitate the change. Facilitate the learning.