Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Transformative Learning and How It Relates To My Context

transformativeAs some of the readers of this blog may be aware, I am currently undertaking the exciting journey which is called the Digital Pedagogy Advanced License which my employer encourages through it's Smart Classrooms Professional Development Framework.  As a part of this journey, we are required to do certain things each week and produce a portfolio of evidence outlining projects which show leadership in the field of ICT within the wider educational community.

Our task this week was to explore Transformative Learning.  We had a series of readings / videos that we needed to consider and reflect upon them within our particular context.  One of the base readings that we needed to consider was Shane Roberts summary of his understandings of this concept.  Within his synopsis, Shane outlines interpretation of the major aspects of the underpinning concepts behind Transformative Learning.  They are:
  1. Learners learning to think for themselves.
  2. Freedom from unquestioning acceptance (negotiation of learning, practice and assessment).
  3. Teacher as a model learner.
  4. Reflection.
Within my particular context as a year 7 teacher in a 1-1 laptop environment, I can easily identify some of those aspects that I embed into my class on a daily basis easily, whilst others are quite difficult.  The biggest challenge that I have had with my students this year is the concept of reflection.  It just seems as though this important aspect of student learning has not been focused on and questions such as 'Why are we bothering with this Mr Proud?' or 'Are you serious?' were commonly heard in my classroom at the start of the year.  Now, reflective processes are incorporated often and the feedback from the students is that it actually helps them think more about what they did and how they would do it better next time. 

The other concept that my learners are working hard to develop is learners learning to think for themselves.  As I stated in an earlier blog post, I feel that throughout most of my primary educational career (wish I made some money out of it!) I was a passive recipient of content / information and the educator in front of me was the 'Grand Pooba' and his / her word was right.  Once again, I was surprised at the start of the learning journey with my kids this year on the lack of higher order thinking skills my students possessed.  I have always encouraged my kids to explain themselves, ask questions and enquire about concepts covered within our learning environment.  My students are now starting to develop these thinking skills but it has been a very hard slog. 


Jodie Riek left an interesting comment on Shane's blog entry about Transformative Learning.  She stated:

'As an early years teacher, I truly believe that we teach kids out of being self thinking and risk taking learners'. 

She also adds:

'They want to EXPERIENCE the answers. They want to think for themselves, come up with theories, test them out, and discover results. They want to learn by doing. But somewhere early in their journey of learning in the school system we train them out of this innate need to experience the answers and we mould them to understand and perform as required in our system.' 

I found Jodie's comments very insightful.  Learners enter the school system eager to tackle the world and believe that they can solve / figure out anything.  At the beginning of each year, I openly encourage students to take risks and I truly believe that this is the best way that we learn.  Our practical example of this is the use of ICT within my class.  For some tools / software items, I just say to my kids 'Go for it, figure it out and then teach me' is such a powerful learning experience for my kids.  They learn by doing, not just passively watching me demonstrate concepts at the front of the room. 

Having students experience solutions to problems is such a powerful experience for both the student and the teacher.  The teacher feels enriched because the students 'get it' and they are engaged.  The student is feeling like they are on top of the world and eager to learn, which is half of the battle one.

In summary, Transformative Learning has a place in a primary school classroom but traditional expectations of primary school students need to change for it to be effectively implemented.  If we keep have the same expectations of students, a transformation of practice will never take place and we will be failing to prepare the students under our guidance for the journey called life!

Excuse my rambling on with my thoughts.  I really need to nut this out further.

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