Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Lay on, Macduff, and damned be him who first cries ‘Hold! enough!’ (William Shakespeare)

Part 2

Okay, recent posts have been considering teacher as meddler-in-the-middle, using Erica McWilliams' article as a guide.

Using a series of lessons on The Scottish Play (or M*cb**h if you're not superstitious) as an example, where students had to solve a crime (the means, the motive, and the murder of a king) prior to reading the bard's play, with the teacher acting as an interviewee by taking on all the roles within the play for the students, McWilliams shows how the meddler works.

The teacher in this example provides support and direction through 'structure-rich activity in which they themselves are highly involved'.

I really like this, and I'm glad being a meddler is not just about asking better questions (as I'd previously thought).

Erica, again:

Meddlers know that their students are smart, and they keep asking them to be even smarter.

In the example above, using The Scottish Play, the teacher, an active participant, never the sage or the guide, kept asking them to be smarter:
I divided them into about six or seven rival detective agencies, each having to come up with their version of what happened. I gave them a list of names of who they could interview, and I went into whichever role asked. If they wanted to speak to Lady Macbeth, I took that on; if they wanted to speak to the porter I did that, too. 
Now the crime of killing Duncan, and the cover-up, are quite complex, as you would probably know. It involves a number of incidents and more than one individual, not just Macbeth. So coming up with Means, Motive and Opportunity is quite complicated. They listened, got together to theorise, and then asked some more. I let them try out their ideas when they thought they had it. I would not make it easy for them. Of course they wanted to know what actually happened pretty well straight away, but I was not letting them off the hook of the work of theorising. And I wanted them to do it together—to value each other’s smarts, not just mine. I acknowledged it when they were moving in the right direction but would not give more—they struggled for every inch of the truth and it had to be right. They continued to ask to interview characters and I continued to play the parts (my emphasis).
My task is to design an action like this that involves my students in their study skills session next Monday. A challenge. Tricky, but not impossible.

Part 3 coming soon: more about what meddlers do differently.

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