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The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible! It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.

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Monday, 8 September 2014

You teach who you are?

Education conferences can be a bit of a mixed bag, but invariably you learn something. Rather than just adding to the range of teaching methodologies, the best speakers question the nature and purpose of education, including the role of the teacher/lecturer. I recently attended an education conference in Newcastle, and two speakers stood out, ultimately because they challenged the orthodoxy of educational institutions as the disseminators of knowledge,and their genuine interest in the promotion of authentic learning experiences for young people.

Both David Price, author of 'Open', championed by Ken Robinson, and Colin Jones, from the Innovation Research Dept. in the University of Tasmania, argued that the nature of technology and changing work patterns mean that learners have different needs for social and borderless learning where there is a predominance of challenge, fun and collegiality. No longer will the lecturer be the director of learning, the holder of knowledge, based in a static institution. For both these speakers there has been a shift from pedagogy to andragogy to heutagogy.  

Colin Jones, in explaining his emancipatory approach to education pedagogy asks us educators about the following:
Who decides?
  1. Learning outcomes
  2. Content
  3. Learning activities
  4. Nature and application of assessment
  5. Timing of all learning processes
Colin inspired us by asking great questions. 
How engaged are your students? What type of emancipatory behaviours should educators use?
I particularly liked this question from jeans and tee-shirt clad Colin "Do you need to dress up to look as if you have authority, and you also need to stand at the front of the class?" 

He also asked us questions he asks of his learners. What is your purpose? If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion, for your passion will lead you directly to your purpose. Always start with your passion. His emphasis was on developing and encouraging curiosity in students, and supporting them to be more self-directed.

What does this mean for educators? For me, it means teaching from the side, helping students and staff to create challenging and authentic learning experiences, encouraging them to learn what they are passionate about and engaging with them in different places, at different times and through different means.

Many of the lecturers present at the conference were less than happy about this vision of the future preferring the institutionally based learning and a traditional pedagogical approach.One asked Colin about the work/life balance which could be in jeopardy from emailing students at different times of the day and evening. His reply was "you teach who you are" - it suited him but individual lecturers would have to find their own style. 

Do you know what you are passionate about, do you teach who you are?

Both David and Colin have been asked to participate in next year's Emporium of Dangerous Ideas.

1 comment:

  1. Re work life balance and emailing 'out of hours'. Its a case of a stitch in time saving nine - I frequently make some form of e contact usually email or facebook with my students in the evening or at weekends. Two minutes of my time can save a student worrying for days about a question or a problem. Just a don't worry we can chat about it next week helps. A lively well used face book page where staff interact daily can help to form a great peer support network and if there is a high staff presence on it so much the better. There is also the chance to engage in debates and react to events with students who may be looking for context and background so you are 'live teaching' with people who actually want to know then and there. It reinforces the course community. Email contact to a student who is unwell or has personal problems helps keep them bonded to the course and demonstrates that you care about their welfare - and don't just have them on your mind from 9 - 5.