Saturday, 14 April 2012

Magical Mystery Learning

Just read a thought provoking  BLOG from a valued colleague here:

Objectives on display!

Stuart makes a great point about allowing children to unearth, discover, explore what they are learning, as opposed to having it signposted in neon lights at the head of the lesson.  His comparison of knowing the end of a Harry Potter novel being a real put off made me laugh and sigh.  I never read flyleaves and close my eyes, put hands over ears and hum when I see trailers for film and TV. Absolutely right Stuart - there are times when the joy of starting something not knowing where it will end is a real joy!

My comparison is of Learning Journeys. Of course there are some functional journeys, like mine yesterday to London, when the absolute clarity of where you are going, how and when, is critical.  On these journeys I want my objectives on the platform board and I want to make progress EXACTLY as it states!

However, but, and yet... you will never stop me looking out of the window and wondering at all I see and wanting to explore those woods rushing past and that mysterious tower flashing by (for a real example see my poem "The Tower" )

I think Stuart is making the point that on the very best and most exciting learning journeys the guide knows exactly where she is and in what rough direction we are heading.  And yet, we have the time to stand and stare... we might even very the route if it suits and it can lead to great discoveries, at our pace.  In some cases our destinations exceed even the guide's expectations!

So, for me it's not either or, its' what is appropriate.

I have felt the  rising dare..

Two references come to mind, both well worth a lurk, one old one new - sorry nothing blue today.  The first, very recent, is Ofsted's "Moving English Forward" in which the "myths" teachers believe inspectors want to see are listed...(for more go to my post below "Sorry Michael").  I urge teachers to do what they know is right and not follow some kind of imagined lexicon of pedagogy....There is danger in imagining rules - we have enough real ones!  I tweeted yesterday, "Above all to thine own self be true and it shall follow as the night the day, thou will'st get up the nose of some control freak".  I was thinking of the pressure to "behave as expected".  But I have felt the  rising dare and often   "gone for it" Why? because I knew that my very best teachers and my very best learning could be creative, divergent and risk taking  (as well as being capable of dispensing, with efficiency, the boring but necessary diligent, focussed and sure footed parts of learning ). But, be warned, if you too take time to be true to yourself you will be seen by the grey suited commuters of our profession as: trouble makers, rebels, maverick, whacky etc. You may also be recognised by a similar mind and be promoted quickly and high....and I guarantee you will not grow old with regrets  So, make your professional choice....

My second reference is to Elliot Eisner's excellent work (in 1967) on expressive objectives. This article has the guts:

A really good read eh?  And, wonderful in the sense that is puts our deliberations today in a timeline that stretches back so far, with so many wise words... not a lot is new. If you stand still long enough, they call you an innovator...

Grey suited commuters

If, on reflection, you are following the myth of constant, detailed and signposted objectives and so find yourself  travelling on express train learning journeys every day, like those unspeaking, grey, suited commuters I met yesterday, maybe you need to, loosen up, plan a different kind of journey - a magical mystery tour perchance...