Saturday, January 9, 2010

On Watching the Game

The Jets are winning 14 to 7, and the Bengal offense is talking on the bench. That is what catches my interest. The QB and the line are talking about what is happening and what it means.  They are not watching the Jets move down the field another time - they are discussing and considering and arguing about what they need to do.

We think football players are dumb (as in mute). These are not. These players know what it means to use language to solve a problem, to use language to move forward.  To win (hopefully).

Isn't this dialoguing a major goal of education?  (rhetorical question).

How can we bring our students to this point if we do not require them to have/practice these discussions about the situations, jobs, readings, experiences, activities, units which we arrange for them or arrange for them to arrange for themselves? 

I reflect on myself as both an athlete and a student (I was very good at both before college hit me for a loopy loop), but I did not talk much and no one required me to do it.  This was a problem.  In today's world, I would have been a Facebook all-nighter and had an iPhone in my pocket.  But I would still be avoiding f2f communication.  I learned to use and appreciate language by longing for it and studying it, I think.  But even today I often short-change myself f2f.

Where I am going is this: We need to put our students on teams and make success depend upon active, focused, informed communication.  I am tired of the pedagogy that says that students should all be doing or reading their own things, then sharing their learning.  This model is not a jig-saw puzzle or an engagement bullet.  It is a mush that more often that not is intensely boring to students and teachers alike.  Yet we are told to smile and nod and complement the individual, who learns nothing from feedback and who is engaged no further than she has engaged herself - which is too often too little.

We all learn by sharing ideas about the SAME content. That is what blogging, wikis, social networks, and football teams are all about.

Why can't education get it right?

1 comment:

  1. Hi Elizabeth,

    I'm a friend of Scott Love.

    I'm not sure what you mean by mush. Jeannette Veatch wrote several texts on Individualized Reading Instruction (Putnam) and developed entire management schemes for portfolio management and for conferencing with children using a reading workshop approach. See Veatch's Reding in the Elementary School (Richard C. Owen) which is now out of print. In practice, reading conferencing allows children to self-select texts and gives much more time with the teacher during the reading conference approach than any other method.

    Bill Barnes