Friday, April 3, 2020

High on a threshold yearning to sing, down with the dancers having one last fling (Patti Smith)

Photo by ZEKERIYA SEN on Unsplash
Here we go then, one last fling regarding meddling!

Here's my learning reflection on what I've learnt from this inquiry:

When I mentioned the whole meddling thing to a colleague, an English teacher I've known since Woodford House days, he said - that's what I've always done - been a provocateur - i.e. someone who has engaged in provocative behaviour (without inciting criminality yunnerstan) to provoke thought and discovery in his students.

I've seen him at it, so I can confirm it as a true fact.

When I began my teaching career I was lucky enough to have some real meddlers as my English tutors at Auckland's Secondary Teachers' College. Among them was one, I believe it was Ron Martin. who told me about Charles Weingartner and Neil Postman's Teaching As A Subversive Behaviour (you can upload it here). 

It was published in 1971 and is as relevant in 2020 as it was back then (my first year of secondary school incidentally).

What the authors had in mind was - a new education that would set out to cultivate just such people - experts at 'crap detecting'.

And that, it seems to me, is what being a meddler similarly involves. Creating successful crap detectors, who think and analyse and sift and theorize and test their thesis and don't sit still.

Active and inventive meddlers have to challenge and support students on their crap detecting road.

I certainly aim to continue my teaching peregrination along that pathway, a meddling and a roving as I go (if we ever emerge, that is, from this zombie apocalyse of self-isolation to again enter our classrooms again post Covid-19).

It's entirely possible to meddle via zoom, mainly within break-out rooms, I would suggest, but there is something about the cut and thrust and informal meddling while seeing the whites of students' eyes that is lost on zoom.

Here endeth the lesson on meddling!

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