8/16/2015

Are We Teaching What Our Students Really Need? Revisited

I recently had the pleasure and privilege to listen to Barbara Hoskins at iTDi Summer Intensive, who talked about the kind of students we are preparing: students ready to face 21st century life or or to life itself?. Interesting question, isn´t it?! 
As an educator born and raised in a permanent "under-construction country", I would like to think I am preparing students to live "some kind of descent life", the rest is taught to them by everyday life itself.
 have a particularly interest in holding speaking sessions on several and varied topics with my advanced level groups, especially with my Seniors. To my surprise, or not, they all share the same thought: they need to be ready to face the unexpected. It is absolutely amazing how much I learn from this interaction. I just hope they feel the same way.
Additionally, it is funny how I "connect" phrases and quotes from real life and fiction characters: my students´ way of thinking takes me back to a cartoon I used to watch with my little one: Pablo from the Backyardigans is Agent Secret in "Lady In Pink" episode which wisely reminds the viewer many times: "Always Expect, the Unexpected". He is so right, isn´t he?  :)



My readers, if there are some out there, may wonder why I relate real life people and fiction characters? It is simply because I am a passionate mother, educator, and above all life lover. I have never lived my life as if I were "just watching the wheels go by" or as if I was watching a movie of my own life: I have lived, struggled, laughed and cried since I was born, and I am still doing the same. So, my purpose is to inspire and motivate people, especially my students, to Live their Lives: to make the most of their days in this world they live in.

Where does inspiration and intrinsic as well as extrinsic motivation come from? What can we do, as educators, to inspire and both types of motivation? Is it that only some and not all of us are open to get inspired and motivated? If we were ever inspired and motivated what was it that made us lose those "feeling" or states?

Too many questions and not many answers. What I know is that much of what I asked above has to do with the person´s, in this case our students´ openness and willingness to receive what we have ready for them.

One of the readings that inspired me to start this post came from Paulo Freire, who refers to Banking Education: "Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor" PEDAGOGY OF THE OPPRESSED, Chapter 2 by Paulo Freire. New York: Continuum Books, 1993. As long as we teach what students need, teachers will no longer be depositors. 

The second one was a post by Bill Ferriter who mentions Will Richardson´s reflections on  Dr. Seymour Papert ´s Child Power, in a way what it is trending today, to try to give the children the power to control their own learning.

Image credit AZ Quotes



How does student motivation fit in all this? I came across an article from MindShift where the blogger suggests that autonomy, mastery or purpose could be the key to motivating students,  based on Dan Pink´s TedTalk: "The Puzzle of Motivation" , 2009.


Last but not least, I recently subscribed to EML Educating Modern Learners published by Bruce Dixon and my first-ever-thought provoker Will Richardson, who just wrote about Discovering Learning or Delivering Education:  "An emphasis on education reduces agency for the individual learner, because an education must be “delivered” and the easiest way for that to happen is if the system and the teacher organize it and mete it out in a fairly standardized way. If we set learners free, who knows what type of an “education” they would get? This scares us deeply because it reduces our certainty of the outcome, (even if we may know that the outcome is just a guess to begin with.)"
Richardson welcome webpage addresses his readers by saying that "Educational leaders around the globe are grappling with unfamiliar new contexts for learning which demand new ways of thinking and leading around an increasingly uncertain future".
If, we educators, are not inspired, motivated and certain enough, how can we pass on to our future generations something we lack? 

I would like to think I am not disappointing Seymour Papert. What really makes me proud is that I have never had the attitude he talks about in his quote (I invite you to read my previous post http://all4efl.blogspot.com.ar/2015/08/where-has-my-comfort-zone-gone.html ) and what is more, I second Will Richardson who reminds us about  "Innovation, risk-taking, learning from failure and using technologies" being all these key ingredients of my daily teaching practice.

Have I inspired you at least just a bit? I would love to hear from you!