Louise’s Blog

My Teaching Philosophy(ies)

Do you ask yourself the questions: How much? How often? How involved? when it comes to technology? I do, all the time. I worry about students’ dependability on their devices. I worry about their social interaction – the old-fashioned kind. The kind where you can handle a face-to-face conversation by looking someone in the eye and talking. (Yip, Digital Immigrant thinking.) Inevitably, someone will remind me that this generation is different. The times are different. The technology is different. The expectations are different. The job skills are different. Communication is different. Reluctantly, I have to agree. Heck, I am even a hypocrite: I am on Facebook (I manage three pages), Whatsapp and Instagram, have three email addresses (if you count TRU’s), have four blogs (five if you count this course blog), use Google Docs all the time, have recently joined Diigo, and expect students to use the web for acquisition of information … I spend a huge part of my day staring at my computer screen.

Kanuka says that “computers should be used as tools for helping learners build knowledge; they should not control the learner” (p.94). Yes, I reply conspiratorially. Balance!

As for online learning, it is not for everybody. My daughter, grade 12, enrolled for Physics 11 through an online school. She hates it. It is not the course. She misses the face-to-face interaction with a teacher. She needs that presence. It provides security and comfort to know that help is just a voice away. She does not get the same satisfaction from an email to her facilitator. She is also taking Physics 12, but at school. Loves it!

Abrami & Bures (as cited in Kanuka, 2008, p.100) made the statement in 1996 that “e-learning communication tools facilitate the development of argument formation capabilities, increased written communication skills, complex problem-solving abilities, and opportunities for reflective deliberation.” In 1999, Archer, Garrison and Anderson (as cited in Kanuka, 2008, p.100) warns educators and institutions to “adapt and/or transform due to the catalytic power of technology.” And still technology is changing; and still we are trying to catch up. And as for the philosophies, it is difficult to place yourself squarely within one at any given time.

Upon reading Kanuka (2008), I have decided that I lie somewhere between the Progressive and Humanist Philosophies. I would think all educators worth their salt would aim for their students to move towards “personal growth, maintenance, and promotion of a better society” (Kanuka, p.102). I introduced the blog as an experiment, and found it quite successful. I believe developing skills to problem-solve independently is important,  love “situation[al] approaches” to learning, and aim for “[d]emocratic cooperation and personal enlightenment” (Kanuka, p.103). I tell my students and their parents all the time that we are in a “partnership (Kanuka, p.104), and that I want students to manage their own learning.

The new BC Curriculum emphasizes experiential learning, and the Teaching for Transformation program we are busy with, underpins this. Another focus on the BC Curriculum and TfT is “validation and application in real world contexts” (Anderson and Iron, 2012). Metaphors to explicate the teacher’s role here is “helper, consultant, and/or encourager” (Kanuka, p.104). As for the criticism, I believe the educator (in partnership with the parent), should place themselves in a prominent, yet supportive role with the intention of guiding the student with the vehicle of carefully chosen content towards self-actualization.

While I am supportive of the students’ self-management of learning – it is an important and lifelong skill – I involve myself in the students’ learning with the purpose of guiding, assisting, encouraging and pointing out issues or directions that he/she might be overlooking. The balance is important. Although the humanist seem to render content almost useless, you need that vehicle. When a student leaves my care at the end of a school year, my hope is that he/she has more knowledge of the structures that build the English language, an appreciation for it, the skills to make sense of different genres of writing, and the skill to use English in both oral and written contexts. I need content as a the basis from which to achieve that.

In 26 years, I have attempted to, and managed (to some degree) to keep up with changing technology and trends in pedagogy. Anderson and Dron’s (2012) philosophies place me mainly between Social-constructivist and Connectivist, but with the scale tipping heavily towards the Social-constructivist side. It depends on what I am teaching, and how I plan to have learners achieve the outcomes, and, on a deeper level, the deep hopes I have for them. If content is your vehicle, then you would want to “build upon the foundation of [the] previous learning.” Knowledge is important, and “language and other social tools” are used in “constructing knowledge.” It is a dream for a teacher to arrive at a place where students “assess their own learning”, but that is not a reality that all students embrace. You teach a diverse group – some will be comfortable to create “information and knowledge resources,” and will excitedly move for a strong presence on the web. Others will shy away from it, preferring a private setting within which they can communicate with close friends, and where they do not feel exposed. This decision should be up to them – I have made reference to this in a previous post.

Another connection to the connectivist philosophy, is that I love it when students create, share and publish (if possible) artefacts. This is easy in English. The blog is one such platform, but this year I would love them to publish their poems and stories online – those who want, I should add. Perhaps also on their own blogs?

I think the challenge – and it is a biggy – is to develop a curriculum (am I still allowed to use this word?) where students are challenged in relation to their gifts, and engaged despite their diversity. Each student should find his/her own comfort zone, and the teacher is charged with the task of challenging each – where he/she is at – to step outside of that comfort zone and to learn and grow.

 

RESOURCES:

Kanuka, H. (2008). Understanding e-learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson (Ed.), Theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Athabasca University: AU Press. http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/04_Anderson_2008-Theory_and_Practice_of_Online_Learning.pdf

 

Anderson, T. & Dron, J. (2012). Learning technology through three generations of technology enhanced distance education pedagogy. European Journal of Open Distance and E-Learning. 2012-2.  http://www.eurodl.org/?p=archives&year=2012&halfyear=2&article=523



0 comments ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below..

You must log in to post a comment.