Friday, July 15, 2016

Ziggy played guitar, jamming good with Weird and Gilly and the spiders from Mars.(David Bowie)

Creative Schools is a book by Ken Robinson - yes - the TED talks guy and yes - he loses the 'sir' for the book cover.

Currently, I'm re-reading it. Slowing it down a tad this time. I confess: I skimmed it first up. I'm appreciating his voice as well as his message much more this time out.

He makes a great point about the move towards personalisation of everything these days: Facebook; Twitter; apps on our phones; our clothes; Spotify playlists and so on.

And yet we maintain the rigid industrialised school classroom!! Hugely ironic given what education is supposed to be all about!

In his view, personalised means:

  • Recognising that intelligence is diverse and multifaceted
  • Enabling students to pursue their particular interests and strengths
  • Adapting the schedule to the different rates at which students learn
  • Assessing students in ways that support their personal progress and achievement

I really like this.

The movement towards 'personalised learning' in America has been exciting to read about online. Though, there it is hampered by standardised assessment and educations' long established industrial models.

Same in NZ to a large extent.

We also have mandated national curriculums and industrial models for schools. Though, NCEA does allow for some flexibility of assessment.

In my current English classroom I think the first two and last bullet points are being firmly acknowledged.

Via having a huge range to choose from, my students personalise their learning by deciding what they will study, and in what form they will present their learning for assessment.

So that's good.

The fourth bullet point though? 
  • Adapting the schedule to the different rates at which students learn ?
Not happening. Not even close. 

Why not? Well, it's not something I can control: period times are fixed, the six day timetable is set, and so the scheduling remains in an industrial model. 

Monday, period 1, is English. At the end of the hour my students have to stop work. Move to another subject. I then teach a different class for the next hour and then they stop. 

Crazy. Nothing personalised about that. 

So it's bad for students and it's bad for teachers. Yes, teachers.

I don't operate well on Mondays, never have. Particularly after school on a Monday. I'm cream crackered by that stage.

In most schools that I've worked in, this is 'meeting time'. I don't function well at 4pm Monday afternoon (others may do). I'm supposed to be present in mind and body but I cannae do it! 

Crazy. Nothing personalised about that.

However, I can control when my English department meets. 

We don't meet on Monday afternoons.  

Luckily the four of us have work desks in the staff room in close proximity so we engage in a lot of banter. Oh, and we also share ideas, moderate, discuss stuff. 

We have our classrooms next to each other so we do the 'pop ins' frequently (Amy is slowly becoming a 'pop in' fan). 

If we ever need a formal time together, we meet during assembly or chapel time.

This personalised English department time works for me. It would be ludicrous for us to wait for our turn in the Monday after school cycle.

Like so many things - if that's good for us...why wouldn't it be good for the students too?

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