Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Forcing and enforcing independence - #rhizo14

Sounds oxymoronic but it isn't. Forcing independence is what parents do when they get a child to dress themselves. It would be quicker to do it for them, but the patience pays off later.
Dave Cormier's week 2 topic for #rhizo14 is an important one for those who teach (okay, cause learning to occur). How do we marry the institution's need for direction and measures of success with those of achieving rhizomatism (sorry if this word does not exist)?
In the "open" approaches that we have taken in my school (6th to 8th grade) we had a storyline provide the context and wanted individual and small group independence in how it was tackled. This was not easy to generate. Students are strongly institutionalised and want to know what they are learning and how it will be tested.
However, with very much younger children who have not been institutionalised in this way it has not been difficult. The structured play approach, using also Reggio Emilia ideas, in the Early Years (age 3 to 5), has been extraordinarily successful. It has been the parents that we have had to work with and convince. Here there is real learning taking place, under the control of the learner with the teacher looking for opportunities to enrich this.
What about teachers? Reading George Couros' article about professional development (PD) - thanks Jennifer for sharing - brought it home to me. Surely, real Life Long Learners (LLL) work rhizomatically?
Shouldn't they? Isn't there a difference between Life Long Pupils (receive only) and LLLs who are in charge of what they want to do, are independent?
How ready are our teachers to really take on this responsibility?
Dave Cormier spoke about his 40 year olds doing his course. How do they react to the forced independence? Would really like to know.


Vanessa Vaile said...

You may have this backwards. As someone who returned to higher ed in my late 40s, I was already used to learning independently -- automatically and as matter of course folded it into GTA teaching. The educators around me were thrilled by my enthusiasm but appalled by my being so independent. More than a few openly disapproved of autodidacts.

The role of (whatever you want to call it) changes with stage and learning area. The ultimate goal is the same: to render ourselves obsolete.


am the leader of a group of interns. Our goal is to create a useful website for English majors at our university. Secondarily, I have skin in the game with my department head who sees this as a way to promote the good work we are doing and to connect with alum majors, emeritus faculty, the full catastrophe. So...I feel like I am the leader. The interns have chosen to enter into this work with me. I am invested as are they. In a way we are all 'in thrall' to our avowed purpose. Can this be a mixed dance or am I kidding myself in thinking of this project as rhizomatic?