I want to start this post by admitting progressive teaching has nothing (per se) to do with technology. Instead it is a pedagogical shift in the teacher’s mind. Yup – I used the word pedagogical. For those who know me, I’m not a fan of the word, but it applies here.
Do I consider myself a progressive teacher? As often as possible. Do I consider myself a traditional teacher? Sure, sometimes. If we were to construct a giant Venn diagram I’d be in the middle – somewhat.
Traditional Education IMO
- Teachers have knowledge to share with students
- Authoritative, in-charge and lecture often
- Clear and distinct rules
- Quiet rows of desks
- Students take notes, mastery of skills
- Prepare for the ‘real-world’
- Textbooks, workbooks, pencil, paper
- Rote, repetitive
- Grade motivated
- Standing teacher at front
Progressive Education IMO
- Knowledge is everywhere, teachers are not experts
- Collaborative, student freedom and self taught
- Common sense rules of life applied to classroom
- Student learning spaces
- Student performance to demonstrate learning
- ‘Real-world’ is an everyday component of class
- Student created materials acquired from knowledge sources
- Open response
- Performance motivated
- Teacher sitting with students, much apart of learning spaces
The biggest component of education today that I struggle with is turning off learning when the bell rings. If we are to be progressive, why do we operate on a schedule? If student learning is now 24/7 why do we stop math and begin science when the bell rings? I especially hate detentions. Consider a student knee deep in a math task. Bell rings. Student must then stop – turn off their ideas and head to detention. Isn’t that punishment enough? And what is ‘punishment’ ? Something a student must complete because of a broken rule. I’d rather just talk about bad choices.
I like to use the common sense to classroom rules in my classroom. I don’t bother with the ‘Class Rules’ anchor chart on the first day of school. If you are going to chew gum, don’t blow bubbles or chew like a horse. Common sense. Sometimes I need a good breath freshener after a morning coffee. If you are going to text, do so when you have some free time and not in the middle of a project. Use school appropriate language etc etc. Long story short, use your best judgement. This approach seems safer than a set list of rules. What happens when a student makes a poor choice that isn’t included in your chart?
I will admit my students have a ‘lunch break’. But only because the school time dictates it. They are also allowed to eat whenever they want. We aren’t Paslov’s dogs. If we get hungry, we eat, regardless of the bell. I think this approach has been successful both because I do see students working through ‘lunch breaks’ but I also see students at practice or in intramurals – and exercise is important.
Lastly – what is preparation for the ‘real world’ ? Why do we prepare elementary students for secondary? Why does secondary prepare for post-secondary? I haven’t written a single test since I entered the ‘real world’ so what is this preparation thing all about?
Maybe post secondary should be better prepared for what is coming out of secondary and maybe secondary should be better prepared for what is coming out of elementary. Our full day kindergarten program is completely progressive. Full of inquiry, full of play and almost zero structure. Collaborative chaos.
I look forward to that cohort when I get them in eight years! (And maybe by then we won’t be so data driven).
Photo source: http://classroompics.com/ – Upload your learning style photos today!
Sometimes I rant. I like to write about what I am thinking in the moment. I encourage people to reply and challenge me to think in another perspective. I am not claiming to be an expert. I am just sharing my thoughts on the topic at the time. Don’t hold me accountable but do question my practice. That’s how I learn.
Enjoy your Sunday.