Friday, June 5, 2009

Starting to think differently.....

At the beginning of this whole inquiry project, before the classes started, I took some time to think about what I was really passionate about in terms of education. Who did I want to be as a teacher, what was my developing teaching philosophy, what impact did I want to have on the students that I teach?

My thinking all lead to one rather cliched response.....I want to make a difference to the lives of the students that I teach. At a shallow level, we all will make a difference to students simply because we will be in the classroom each and every day. BUT, more importantly, what kind of difference did I want to make? This got me thinking......

I remember in my first week of high school being told something that would probably become the most powerful moment of my education journey thus far......"By the end of this year I want each of you to think for yourselves. I want you to give me your opinions, not those of your mums or dads. I want to know what you think, and why." At the time I was somewhat annoyed, 'how dare this teacher tell me that it wasn't ok to think the same thing as my parents!'. With time I realised that I had totally missed the point of her comment. It wasn't so much about being 'right' or 'wrong', 'similar' or 'dissimilar', it was about starting to develop my own beliefs as an individual, and standing up for what I believed in.

Through my tertiary education it was this belief in wanting to make a difference that drove me, at times to put myself in difficult situations where I questioned whether it was worth challenging the status quo, whether 'making a point of difference' was really getting me anywhere. But along the way there were moments where I realised that the most important thing I could do was to be honest to myself. I remember telling the interview panel for a highly competitive government job that I "was philosophically opposed to quantitative research methods which put people into boxes". At the time I thought I had shot myself in the foot. A month later when I got the job over 250 other grads I realised that my honesty and conviction was probably the most important thing I brought with me to that interview.

And so now I am in the position where like that high school social studies teacher, I want to be the one that pushes the boundaries, who challenges the status quo, both within education as a discipline, but also one who challenges students to see the world in a richer way. I want to develop critical thinkers, students who want to make a difference in the world and who are equipped to be creative and innovative thinkers in their lives.

I remember the first time I watched the TED talk by Ken Robinson - watching it I seemed to find someone who made sense, who was saying many of the things I had been grappling with as a trainee teacher - the conflict between creativity and expectations places on us as teachers. I have a link to the video here:

So where did all this get me?

I started to be interested in the teaching pedagogy. I was interested in exploring ways in which we could make our teaching practices relevant to the lives of the students we were teaching. I also wanted to ensure that teaching and learning were collaborative approaches for the teacher and students. This led to an interest in interactive pedagogies and ultimately to my decision to explore the use of blogs in the classroom as an interactive multimedia which draws on new literacies and takes learning into the 21st century.

And so begins my journey.......I am not sure where I will be going and what the end outcome will be - but I hope to explore the ways in which blogs are being used in the classroom to expand our understandings of literacy and allow for interaction and collaboration between students, teachers and the wider community.

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