People fear the introduction of technology into education and its classrooms. However, perhaps its ability to deliver content will free instructors to teach, challenge, develop, and shape thinking in new ways… the way that used to characterize teaching. Think about it: Much of traditional teaching has been the ‘banking’ method (Paulo Freire) – where the instructor has this information and by talking nonstop for 50 minutes, supposedly deposits it in the students’ minds. And whether real learning has happened is anyone’s guess.
So, to challenge our fears a bit, read this blog and then watch this video:
I work in multiple worlds – education, youth ministry, and publishing. They wonderfully mix together in my love and concern for the youth of the world and I’m able to contribute in a variety of arenas that work with young people ages 10-25.
One of the consistent concerns in teaching and youth ministry is the trend toward adult-centered programming. Much of how decisions are made and what is ‘produced’ is centered on the adult by convenience (it makes the job ‘easier’ for the leader) and purpose (the adult determines what it taught and rarely, if ever, checks to see if anyone is engaged or not). Gavin Richardson observed this about youth ministry this when he wrote, “Youth ministry as it is most often lived out today is really a series of adult controlled environments strung together with the hope (and expectation) that youth lives will be transformed.”
So, yesterday I asked folks to identify those in youth work and youth ministry who are the great teachers. Who are the leaders, whether currently in youth work or used to work with youth, who could lead discussions, give talks, facilitate small groups or trips, and just ‘know’ how to do it all in a way that connects with youth. When they taught (via a variety of methods), students learned.
I’d been reflecting a bit this past week on, well, reflection. Reflection is an important life skill, one often under-discussed in education and ministry circles. John Dewey was the first to give it importance in response against the mechanistic Tylerian approaches to teaching/learning. If learning is a disruption of our normal way of viewing a subject, our minds need time to calm those waters and assign meaning to what was just learned.
Take a short-term cross cultural trip, for example. Imagine that you didn’t schedule in any time to discuss the day with your students. Think about how shallow it’d be to not spend time reflecting on the variety of experiences and encounters.
The teacher approached the front of the room, turned to face his audience, and then began to talk. And talk. He handed out an “outline” of her talk, which consisted of a list of quotes from a book. He occasionally asked a question, received one response, and then he’d state her opinion (which often contradicted the view offered) and move on to the next quote. When the 30 minutes ended, I wasn’t clear on what the point was, a view shared by others nearby (based on what we overheard).
At my Teach Like You Believe It seminars, and in my teaching at Bethel College, I have been surprised at the struggle people have toward developing clear objectivse for their teaching, often called teaching aims. Tonight thousands of youth workers will stand in front of a group of teenagers and teach. If each developed beforehand a single sentence that defined what they wanted to accomplish, they could then do one final “edit” on their lesson (discussion, lecture, small groups) and evaluate potential effectiveness. But evidently many don’t develop their aim.