Friday, March 1, 2013

Square Pegs, Round Holes

This concept is something on my mind lately...

As a staff, we have had some discussions about students' learning and how they go about their learning. Specifically, what is the organizational system used by each student to help ensure their success? As you could imagine, many people have some valuable insight & salient points on the matter. Each teacher has unique needs, in regards to their curriculum and teaching style. While I respect everyone's opinion and where they're coming from, I find myself disagreeing with the notion that every student should use the same organizational system. A one-size-fits-all approach. I can see the argument; in fact, I'm sure it solves some problems and could potentionally help with implementation & support.

It's just that philosophically, I don't agree. It always makes me think of the story The Bed of Procustes.

This is what can be so difficult about being a teacher and working within the modern-day educational system. On one hand, you look for efficient, widely applicable solutions and systems to teach & reach students. Sometimes this is good and what's best. Sometimes, however, you want to give students room. Room to grow, explore, create, make choice, fail & succeed. In other words, to learn. There have been countless articles and talks about how schools can 'kill' creativity and individualism, and when issues like this - albeit small in nature - come up, I can see the point.

I think this is another reason why being a mobile teacher and having my cart of Chromebooks has been so great. Today, for example, students were working on a formative writing assessment. Some students were using the Chromebooks to write digitally, using Blogger and/or Google Docs to collaborate and peer edit/review, some students were using their notebooks with highlighters and pens, and still others were using a combination of paper/computer to get the results they needed.

Another way to say it: they found a method that worked best for them to learn, create, & collaborate.

I'm sure that because of my personality & philosophy, the experience of being a teacher who moves around and has a cart of Chromebooks has been enjoyable. Never mind the fact that I'm always discovering new ways - either by research, accident, or through great colleagues - to utilize the technology now available to me on a daily basis.

To quote the great Ferris Bueller: "If you have the means, I highly recommend it!"