Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Freire Friday ...on libertarian education

The important thing, from the point of view of libertarian education, is for the people to come to feel like masters of their thinking by discussing the thinking and views of the world explicitly or implicitly manifest in their own suggestions and those of their comrades. Because this view of education starts with the conviction that it cannot present its own program but must search for this program dialogically with the people, it serves to introduce the pedagogy of the oppressed, in the elaboration of which the oppressed must participate (Chapter 3).

I really think that we can blame others until we're blue in the face for the wrongs in our world and in our systems, like our education systems, for example, but it freezes any possibility of further, more meaningful, dialogue! We tend to blame our ministers and political folk for our wrongs more so than we probably should...after all we're they voted in by us the decerning public?! Sure, there's a need to rant and rave and oftentimes at these people especially (if you vote them in and they don't do their jobs, then why not?!), but when we use it to vent our spleens and not much else its pretty pointless don't you think?

So, if we want something fixed, need something now, are concerned about something important enough, we should get physical and act on it!

Where do we start then? I reckon, I'm pretty comfortable with having a "can do" attitude. Something needs doing and I'm feeling a connection with it, then I say, "self, go for it".

In what other ways might be find a starting point?

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Taking the a-ha! moment to another level

Dave Pollard has fleshed out the AHA! strategy a little more with the help of comments from critics and friends. He has also included some insightful stories to illustrate how the AHA! would be used and to "articulate its unique attributes better".

It might be worthwhile fleshing out the AHA! Learning Curriculum too, as an exercise...stay tuned!

I am always bowled over by the approach Dave Pollard takes in his writings - something I admire and aspire to! Thanks for your insights Dave! In this latest post, Dave is looking to set up AHA! A Discovery and Learning Centre - "The means to get things done."

Dave has included a Session structure, a business model, vision statement, assests (human and physical0 and of course his inspiration for the concept. As always Dave seeks to walk the walk, above the talk!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Touching a raw nerve or two...

George Siemens spotted an article from the NZ Herald about the technological rewvolution takin gplace in higher educaiton and remarked that the article as with many in the past gloss over the real issues around learning in today's world. Seimens argues that the emphasis should be on relevance to today's learners, not on systems and tech-based "solutions"...and I agree! I'm just as annoyed with this article and many others out there, as George is! It begs the question of who is leading whom in the HE industry?!

Check out the article for yourself...what do you think?

Speaking of education going global, you might be interested in this upcoming conference to be held in Malaysia next year.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Friere Friday...on teacher as narrator

Freire said:

The teacher talks about reality as if it were motionless, static, compartmentalized, and predictable. Or else he expounds on a topic completely alien to the existential experience of the students. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration -- contents which are detached from reality, disconnected from the totality that engendered them and could give them significance. Words are emptied of their concreteness and become a hollow, alienated, and alienating verbosity.

The outstanding characteristic of this narrative education, then, is the sonority of words, not their transforming power. "Four times four is sixteen; the capital of Para is Belem." The student records, memorizes, and repeats these phrases without perceiving what four times four really means, or realizing the true significance of "capital" in the affirmation "the capital of Para is Belem," that is, what Belem means for Para and what Para means for Brazil.

Narration (with the teacher as narrator) leads the students to memorize mechanically the narrated account. Worse yet, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teachers. The more completely she fills the receptacles, the better a teacher she is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are.

How far have we moved in this view of teaching and learning? How has the role of teaching changed over time? What of the role of the learner in today's world? The last section is quite poignant I think - that to consider you have provided students with lots of information (filled them with information!) you are a 'good' teacher! If students are thus full of information, they must be good students...

...but what have they really learned?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Freire Friday...on manipulation

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Manipulation, like the conquest whose objectives it serves, attempts to anaesthetize the people so they will not think. For if the people join to their process in the historical process critical thinking about that process, the threat of their emergence materializes in revolution. Whether one calls this correct thinking 'revolutionary consciousness' or 'class consciousness', it is an indispensable precondiiton of revolution (Paulo Freire, 1972, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 4, p.118).

It seems the hierarchy of traditional organisations is illustrative of the class 'struggle'. Manipulation is a powerful tool and although it is often used in full knowledge of that power, it can also be used with little awareness of its power, which makes it highly volatile I think! Our lack of awareness of the common good which sits quietly as we yell and stress and carry on, needs still moments and quiet, supportive spaces in order to be heard. We have for too long neglected the common good in this way.

Perhaps on Monday we can think about listening out for the common good, to become aware of its presence again.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Peter Haeusler on 'Student Perceptions of Learning'

I'm really excited about hearing Peter Haeusler talk about student perceptions of learning at our next Pedagogy and Practice meeting! This will enhance my questioning from my previous posting on expectations versus perceptions, I'm hoping!

Monday, April 04, 2005

Perceptions of learning versus expectations

I've had this question playing in my head for a little while: when we talk about designing for learning experience what does it really mean? We tend to look to the learner for guidance on things like
  • learner characteristics (such as the general characteristics of the learner group or student cohort),
  • professional applicability (subjects like nursing, business, ambulance services, etc),
  • timeframe for the learning to occur (most often in the form of 12 week semesters), and
  • learner styles and context (based again on learner group/s as well as individuals).
This is by no means an exhaustive list of factors relating to learning design, but hopefully it premises my next lot of thoughts here!

So, how do we know that the learner knows what they want? In other words how do we seek to differentiate between the learner's expectations leading up to a 'learning event' from what they perceive they have actually learned? You might say well, one occurs prior to learning and the other after the learning - no? I disagree. Firstly the two terms are different in their use for one. To expect something is to have a preconceived notion of something; to be expectant, anticipating something. To me this carries a value judgement to a degree. An individual can hold expectations about a film where they may have read rave reviews, only to be disappointed on viewing the film themselves -- their experience was almost 'tainted' by the overlaying of their expectations shall we say.

Perception then is what you perceive something to be... To me this acknowledges the moment, as in 'to be'. We cannot perceive something unless we are involved in it! It is about observing, gaining insight, developing an understanding of something. It is becoming aware. This is worlds apart from expectation, which is more about anticipation and probabilities - it is more a measurement or a forecast.

Now to get to my point (taking the long way round!)...if we are designing in line with the learner's perception of how they learn (as well as what they are learning) then we are theoretically closer to designing a lived and embodied experience. We thus decrease the gap between the design and the actual learning taking place. Well, this is a good thing isn't it?! If we design for the learner's expectations then surely we're perpetuating the myth that runs counter to learning how to learn?