Tuesday, June 25, 2019

designing to deep

When the teacher is required to stand at the head of the class and deliver lectures that are intended to excite student interest it takes a great deal of time to prepare. You can crowd a hundred students into stadium seating for the live performance (a good teacher can put on a good show), and those students who did not spend their time on facebook might feel inspired to go deeper into the subject area.

Better is when, instead of a teacher telling students what he knows is when he or she presents a subject and inquires of the students what they know or how they feel about the subject, and then offers the tools of inquiry that allow them to go deep. Of course this presents management issues. How can a teacher get the students in and out of class in the allotted time? The teacher is to tread hallowed ground made sacred by millions of years of shared human inquiry.

During our A+ Schools teacher training one of the Teaching Fellows supplied pattern blocks, big bags of them, that we were told to divide equally among groups. Once the bags were opened and the blocks were on the table, we each, without hesitation, began arranging the blocks in rhythm and patterned arrangements.  When our Teaching Fellow Chrissy would call "happy hands" we were asked to stop fooling with the blocks and shake our hands in the air. It was difficult to stop playing with the blocks. Her lessons were for math.

We later used the same blocks to encode poetry, laying out lines from Edgar Allan Poe's poem the Raven, noting with various pattern blocks: rhyme, meter and alliteration. And the point is that at all levels of learning, simple tools and simple questions can lead one into greater depth of learning.

There is a close relationship between inquiry and surprise. We ask questions just hoping for surprise. And when we are surprised (Jerome Bruner's effective surprise) we are inclined to go deep, learning at greater depth. And so a question, please. Is all this sounding like something you would once have found in a Kindergarten class? I hope so. All learning can be like Kindergarten, even and most particularly when it is hoped that we are led to great depths.

Yesterday in the wood shop I resumed work on the maple table.

Make, fix and create. Assist others in learning likewise.

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