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Old July 29, 2000, 12:04 AM
Michael Ross
 
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Default Business: Female Pigs Offline?

When I was doing my "teacher training" (bet that's something you never knew about me... I was doing a DipEd as an add-on to my main degree at uni - before I broke free of the system), the classes I was given to teach were those considered to be the remedial classes. The unteachables. The dunces.

My class, my group of students, was made up from the absolute bottom of two different grades/years/forms.

As I sat at the back of the classroom and watched how my "supervising teacher" handled these kids I noticed he didn't. The kids liked him I guess. But there was no "control" of any kind.

Some would turn around and talk to their friends. One even got up on the lab bench and started drawing on the glass window with her texter. When asked why, she said her texter wasn't working and drawing on glass was how you got the ink to start flowing again.

Her reason was accepted and she continued to stand on the lab bench trying to draw on the window. (these were highschool students. The window was small and near the ceiling)

It reminded me of a teacher I had in my last year of highschool. No one paid any attention at all. People talked to each other, got up and walked around and basically did what they wanted. What did the teacher do while all this went on? He kept on talking. An endless stream of babble.

One year in highschool I was in the top five in my grade for maths. That put me in the top class for the following year. But that following year saw me slide towards the bottom of the top class, while at the same time I ended up being in the top five of the grade in physics.

What caused that? Why should I do so well one year and not so well the other?

If it wasn't for the high physics result I don't think I would have figured it out so soon.

The one common factor which saw me go top five in maths one year and top five in physics the next was, the teacher.

The year my maths slumped I was given a different teacher. Obviously one not suited to teaching ME. I was given a teacher who followed the book. A teacher who applied all the theory without fault.

A teacher like my droning english teacher. A teacher like my "supervising teacher".

I conducted an experiment, literally. After all, I was there to teach science to these unteachables.

My experiment was simple... get the kids involved instead of dictating to them. Help the kids help themselves, if you know what I mean.

I chose to re-cover the subject my supervising teacher had just covered the lesson before... classification.

The lesson/experiment began with a few questions to see if these kids had learnt anything from the previous lesson. They hadn't. The whole lesson, and it had been of double length, had not taught these kids a single thing about classification.

I walked amongst the desks and asked each kid I tapped on the head to stand up at the chalkboard.

This peaked interest. Why was I getting some people up the front of the class and not others? Would I pick them? Their friends? What was going on?

I classified this small group up the front by their hair colour so everyone could SEE classification in action. After that, they did the classifying. Eye color, shoe color, shirt color, and so on. But not just the kids up the front. The whole class. The whole class spent the rest of the lesson classifying themselves as many different was as they could think of. THEY DID the DOING. They LBDY. And they had fun at the same time.

I made stencils, which everyone sniffed of course :o), that got them involved. Not tests type things. Stencils that got them drawing and interacting with the subject. I conducted more hands-on experiments. Equipment got broken, but hey, at least these kids were learning.

My supervising teacher never sat in on a single lesson I taught. And the only thing he said to me about my methods came after a lesson-long experiment in which equipment got broken. He'd been in the back room, the supply room, and had heard my lesson. He said, "Next time you do an experiment, just you do it up the front and let them watch."

That was HIS method. And it plainly wasn't working. The kids weren't interested and they learnt nothing.

My methods got them interested. Got them to participate in their own education. And I guess, taught them the same way they'd learnt things from the time they were born - by doing something themselves and seeing what happened. LBDY.

I didn't know WHY my methods got through to them. I just knew it did.

And all of this came flooding back as I read over the RH report and the whole idea behind the pictogrigm's etc.

Each person's is different. Each created by themselves. Each person learning by doing it themselves.

And as I think about the whole idea of the SOWs, I don't see something that remains online only. I see an offline network of SOW "schools".

Not necessarily a conglomeration of buildings in each city with an SOW sign stuck on the side. Something which goes to the people. Even if it's only started in a local community hall or something. Like an SOW training center or something. The same way some martial arts are taught in weekly sessions. Maybe done in weekend retreats or what have you. Or city-based centers where correspondence courses can be taken for those who aren't online and who can't come to a "session".

Michael Ross
 


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