crap detecting

next week, we’ll be having a major internal PD for our teaching staff, counted 29 assuming full attendance. although i will not be a ‘participant’, i’m still reading the pre-readings chosen to get participants thinking and discussions going.

the post’s title is title for Chapter I of Postman, N., & Weingartner, C. (1971). Teaching as a subversive activity. Penguin Books.

from pg.10 onwards, the metaphor of a clock face is invoked. 1 min on the clock = 50 yrs; 60×50=3000 yrs of human history. some quotes that caught my attention:

“change isnt new; what is new is the degree of change…abt 3 mins ago there developed a qualitative difference in the character of change. Change changed.” (p.10-11)

“in just the last minute, we’ve reached the stage where change occurs so rapidly that each of us in the course of our lives has continuously to work out a set of values, beliefs…that are viable, or seem viable, to each of us personally. And just when we have identified a workable system, it turns out to be irrelevant because so much has changed while we were doing it.” (p.11)

“… you are a walking encyclopedia of outdated information.” (p.11)

“(citing John Gardner) there is usually no shortage of new ideas; the problem is to get a hearing for them…The ageing society develops elaborate defenses against new ideas…As a society becomes more concerned with precedent and custom, it comes to care more abt how things are done and less abt whether they are done…body of customs, convention, …exercises such an oppressive effect on creative minds that new developments in a field often originate outside the area of respectable practice.” (p.12)

“We are not ‘against’ bureaucracies, any more than we are ‘for’ them. They are like electric plugs. They will probably not go away… This is why we ask that schools be ‘subversive,’ that they …providing the young with a ‘What is it good for?” perspective on its own society… generals… politicians… ‘intellectuals’…, for they do not have access to the majority of youth. But schoolteachers do, and so the primary responsibility rests with them.” (p.13)

“The trouble is that most teachers have the idea that they are in… the ‘information dissemination’ business. This was a reasonable business up to abt a min or two ago… The signs that their business is failing are abundant, but they keep it all the more diligently. (citing Santayana) … a fanatic is someone who redoubles his efforts when he has forgotten his aims. In this case, even if the aim has not been forgotten, it is simply irrelevant. But the effort has been redoubled anyway.” (p.13)

“…some teachers who think they are in the ‘transmission of our cultural heritage’ business, which is not an unreasonable business if you are concerned with the whole clock, and not just its first 57 mins. The trouble is that most teachers find that last 3 mins too distressing to deal with…their students find the last 3 mins distressing and confusing too, esp. the last 30 secs…While they have to live with TV film… communication satellites, and the laser beam, their teachers are still talking as if the only medium on the scene is Gutenberg’s printing press. While they have to understand psychology and psychedelics…, their teachers are teaching “subjects” that mostly don’t exist anymore. While they need to find new roles for themselves as social, political, and religious organisms, their teachers are acting almost entirely as shills for corporate interests, shaping them up to be functionaries in one bureaucracy or another.” (p.13-14)

Future shock occurs when you are confronted by the fact that the world you were educated to believe in doesnt exist… There are several ways of responding to such a condition, one of which is to withdraw and allow oneself to be overcome by a sense of impotence. More commonly, one continues to act as if his apparitions were substantial, relentlessly pursuing a course of action that he knows will fail him” (p.14)

reviewing the above quotes again, i ask, “how many of our CL teachers see themselves in an ‘information dissemination’ business?”, and “how many of us are in a state of ‘Future shock’?”, and among these, “how many are overcome by a sense of impotence, and how many are pursuing a course of action that s/he knows will fail her/him, or her/his students? as a teacher educator, how am i going to facilitate a shift in beliefs (esp. epistemic) of CL teachers?

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thoughts on post-workshop reflection

yes, we’ve completed our first round of ICT for SDL and CoL Clinic for primary school teachers (TRAISI code: 12541, or 12541-00001). was reading wj’s facilitator reflection, and it just occurred to me that we have missed an excellent teachable moment!

“我比较不解的是-其实他们之间分享了很多实例了,老师要的是什么实例?……”

some teachers have indeed voiced during the first f2f, that they would like to learn and see 实例。 yes, in the 1-month online discourse, many tried-n-tested examples have indeed been surfaced by fellow course participants. so what are they exactly looking for? wj’s hypothesis is they may be looking for technical hands-on (knowledge). my guess is it stems from their less sophisticated epistemic beliefs. some do not see that ‘learning’ has occurred if ‘learning’ does not take place the way s/he may have 预期ed.

as the self-proclaimed mentor to wj, her performance is a reflection of my hand-holding. there’s much to learn cos i am just more experienced by 2 workshops *hahaha* *oops*. there’s quite a number of things to take note, many of which i have previously noted down. after reading wj’s reflection, one key takeaway for me is the key influence of the facilitator’s paradigm. not mine, but that of whoever i am hand-holding. the “struggle” could be a great one, for s/he will need to manage two sets of paradigm shifts — participants, and oneself.

that’s all for now. perhaps “more later” (Wu, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) (:

150304-macro-reflection_640(acknowledgement: ibangfotografi )

what teachers want in their PD experience

chanced upon this research article published by bill & melinda gates foundation reporting on teachers’ view on teachers’ professional development.

this list of “wants” of PD (and the ‘fineprints’ below) caught my eyes:

  • relevant
  • interactive
  • delivered by someone who understands my experience
  • sustained over time
  • treats teachers like professional
  • less lecture
  • opportunity to apply learning (through either demo/modelling, and practice)

20151002-2014_gates foundation_pd
(acknowledgement: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (2014). Teachers know best: Teachers’ views on professional development, p.4)

as the first bullet point “relevant” highlighted, this research reports the US context. would our teachers be looking at the same set of things, or less, or more, or entirely different set? based on my past experiences engaging in-service teachers, i would think the list can generally apply to our context too. and a timely reminder to fulfill them in my existing and new offering of courses, especially the blended ones (:

post-workshop thoughts

yesterday’s our first Clinic session for primary school CL teachers (TRAISI: 12541). we have a total of 16 participants (13 prior signup; 2 walk-ins; 1 sit in). the largest class size we’ve experienced is 10 prior to this. 6 more participants may possibly change many things, especially the discourse dynamics (are the participants able to interact well? are posts/threads from 16 an overwhelming number? how many of them will be proactive contributors, and thus influencing the answers to the previous 2 qns?)

on the whole WJ is steady, and facilitated the session well for a first-timer. no doubt some teachers appeared hesitant on the “outcomes” of the workshop, we managed to close the first session with full participation in the first introductory post (帖子A), as evident in the df.

after looking at WJ’s reflection, i begin to have a deeper appreciation of ‘struggles’ she’s experiencing as a facilitator of such dynamic/fluid workshop that’s set to achieve broad outcomes (cf. lesson objectives). coupled with an audience that may be so familiar (and fixated) with SIOs, it’s not an easy session to facilitate.

on my part, i am also thinking of what i should do more, in terms of handholding future facilitator who would like to try out our blended learning approach.

things that i have done for/with WJ:

1. sharing of past workshop resources
2. reviewing and planning of activities (incl. schedule, instructions in handout)
2. logistical assistance (online: including setting up of coursespace wiki & df, ironing out of course publisher, setting up of fb groups; classroom: furniture arrangement, electrical wirings)

one single thing that stood out which i felt strongly i could have done more:
– to do a recap of the set of slides, and clarify the meaning and the link between slides starting from 缘起 part. i did not take this step as i safely assumed that these ideas would have been clear to WJ as she has sat in two previous sessions. a good reminder for me to rethink how to make my presentation clearer the next time in a single round. i felt it is important to make them see (or at least let them relate to some past experience) on the usefulness of pure f2f workshops, regardless of length. then we follow to sell why our experimental approach may work better.

– my failure to do this also affected the explanation of the 2-part design (Clinic-Studio). making a clearer emphasis of the design, and how the two are related yet focused differently, may also help to allay the doubts of some participants on the ‘takeaways’.

教学相长 as we often say. in the process, may we both improve on our facilitation skills. that’s all for now, “more later!” (Wu, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015) (:

lake photo(acknowledgement: photo by LoggaWiggler)

blended learning 的联想

a fellow co-learner in the course wrote this as part of weekly reflection activity:

“混成式的学习方式,和一般的面对面的上课学习,在时间上的付出更多。面对面的上课,一下课就是下课,可以不去管它了。但是混成式的学习方式好像不是这样,有帖子A,B,C,有贴1反2,有反思等等。对于“自主学习”和“协作学习”的概念,就一直跟着我,好像每一天都要拿出来在脑子里想一想。虽然每天都在想它们,想得很多很多,一有空就想,无时无刻都在想,但是要把所想的都打写出来,又没有那么多的时间。”

混成式学习的“阴魂不散”,其实所发挥的仅仅是ICT教学所提供的可能性,即每一个人,不受时空限制,只要有想法、有问题,都能够展开或进入学习的“状态”。

这里也深刻带出另一个问题,即ICT绝对和“省时”搭不上关系。或许在基本材料的准备从长远来看是省下了一些时间,但是作回复、为回复而事先搜索查证、阅读、理解,整理内容发帖子分享想法、问题,这些种种的种种都是需要大量精神与时间的付出的。

当学生都积极学习时,教师的“Happy Problem”出现了。试想,当班上40名学生的“学习引擎”若被我们开动了,那种学习所产出的排山倒海的内容不是一个教5班带200个学生的教师所能招架的。怎么办?!?

这或许就是为什么我们要培养学生的SDL和CoL。有了SDL的自我监控(无论是个人学习,或是对小组负责),都能省却教师一些“监控”的时间,转而把精神放在引导学生;有了CoL,小组内出现分工,学习不再是一个人的事,同侪间各有所得、各有长进。最重要的是,学习将是学生主动、教师辅动的意义建构中产生的。

我们目前的挑战或许是,有些华文老师也许觉得有太多的“课文要教”、“技能要教”。要让学生有机会负起SDL、CoL式的学习,或许还得从教师如何看待“学习”这回事着手,才有可能改变教学的设计。是这样吗?

感激老师的这一段反思,推进了我的思考 (: