Saturday, December 8, 2012

Scrutiny


Scroll down to see what I wrote on my class blog yesterday. I feel that as teachers we are constantly justifying our practices. This is not meant to be a negative comment; in fact, scrutiny keeps away complacency. Scrutiny challenges us to be better. It keeps us on our game. It fosters constructive dialogue and moves us forward. However, uninformed scrutiny can hinder progress within a learning community and damage trust. Dana Watts (@teachwatts) captures this sentiment when she tweeted the following this week, "What profession constantly has to defend informed choices they make more than teachers? When will society begin to trust teachers?"

If you are not having professional discussions, engaged in ongoing action research, attending professional development, or reflecting on and tweaking practices then it can difficult for you to understand what happens in schools. It takes time. I understand this, but the default view of education if you are on the outside has to go. It is uninformed. Inquiry, constructivism, understanding, differentiation, individualization, concepts over facts, thinking over rote, problem-solving over computation, quality over quantity, collaboration, authentic and meaningful assessment, real world connections. These are the characteristics of progressive education today. Testing, hours of mindless homework, memorization, and number-crunching do not hold the validity they did twenty years ago.

I believe as a school, we have done very well in promoting and publicising our pedagogical principles through blogs, newsletters, videos, assemblies, student-centered parent meetings, etc. With transparency, we hope to build trust. We are held accountable to our publicised principles and we are committed to practicing what we preach. We have a mission and are responsible to it.

However, if we are to face scrutiny, isn't it fair and responsible that it is informed so constructive dialogue can happen?

What can we do differently to build trust in what we do?

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Do you suffer from Math anxiety as a parent? It’s OK to admit it because it’s a common condition suffered by many. Is Math for you all about number crunching and computation? It’s certainly been a one of the dominant topics during the Three Way Learning Reviews. Society and culture are different from when you and I went to school, so is our understanding of how we learn best. Traditional, factory-style schooling has been proven to not be the most effective way to develop critical and creative thinkers, nor does it easily allow for differentiation and individualization between levels of skill and learning styles. I’m not suggesting that we throw the baby out with the bathwater because there are times when traditional approaches can work, but to be the sole approach to Mathematics teaching would be a disservice to our children. Our approach to Mathematics is steeped in a history of action research and professional discussion that extends beyond our own school community and includes progressive educators worldwide.

Check out these two amazing videos. If you don’t have the time, please watch the first five minutes of the second video. What do you think? Leave some comments on this blog or email me. Let’s open the discussion.



First 5 minutes – very relevant to our Math classrooms today



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