Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Passionate teaching

  Posted by Picasa Personalized learning values the relationships between the teacher and the students.

It recognizes that teaching is emotional work and is infused with pleasure, passion, creativity, challenge and joy (Hargreaves 95).

It is, as Robert Fried writes, a passionate vocation.

Such an appreciation has been neglected the past 15 or so years as teachers have struggled in implement and assess impossibly incoherent curriculums.

Primary teachers, when asked about their jobs, see it in terms of care and affection, even love. ‘Creative teachers’ (Woods and Jeffery 96) try to generate relationships that create ‘interests, enthusiasm, inquiry, excitement, discovery, risk taking and fun.’ Their assistance given to learners (‘scaffolding’ to use an ‘in’ word) is ‘held together by bonds of emotion.’

This is the essence of personalized learning and we have seen little of it being encouraged the last decades – quite the opposite - it has all been objective measurements of criteria and targets.

The reforms that have been imposed have been all about efficiency rather than effectiveness; cognition above care. As a result important things get marginalized as too hard to measure and learning becomes depersonalized.

For all this technocratic pressure most teachers don’t plan in a linear way but start with their knowledge and feeling about their students and what will interest them – using their intuition to gauge what will engage the learners. Only after this is done do they refer to the official curriculum outcomes to ensure they have an ‘audit trail’ for others to check off. They know it is the teachers enthusiasm and passion that ‘flows’ over to students.

Teaching is a creative act – a personal act held together by respectful relationships. True teaching cannot be preplanned and whatever is introduced only ‘sticks’ if it connects with the students purposes or needs.

As Jerome Bruner wrote, 'Teaching is the canny art of intellectual temptation.'

Personalized teaching is passionate teaching – it about creating positive emotional relationships. It is far more than students gaining achievement or specific knowledge. Such teaching is an art form informed by professional understanding gained from experience, other teachers and readings.

As one wise old principal used to say, ‘Teaching is about 30 plus kids, a good relationship, and doing neat things well.’

If personalized learning get back to such wisdom then it will be great!

I guess the ‘experts’ will tell us what it is – after all they read all the books!

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let's hope there is more than rhetoric about personalised learning - actions speak louder than words!

Anonymous said...

Creative teaching is about helping students realize ther talents, passions and dreams - it is in direct conflict with evidence based teaching with pre - planned intentions and criteria.

The 'experts' will complicate it as always! You can 'feel' a good class 'ethos' ( in a 'blink') not measure it!

Anonymous said...

In the last decades we have lost a lot of the emotional enjoyment and fun of teaching and in the process have gained little in tbe way of 'achievement'. And what is it that they are 'achieving' - I bet it is not a 'love of learning' , the only thing that finally counts?

Anonymous said...

All this objectivity and measurement stuff is killing the learning spirit of students and their teachers.

Anonymous said...

It is this attitude towards helping each learner create wonderful 'things' that is the essense of what teaching is all about - not this cold time consuming 'evidence based' teaching nonsense!

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