A younger educator—well-known and enthusiastic—wrote a post with some points in it that just really rubbed me the wrong way. This educator was absolutely well-intentioned but there were errors in the definitions and in the representation of educational pedagogies of previous recent decades.
What did I do?
I reacted. I wrote a relatively polite, yet pointed, reply. I corrected the errors in his thinking and gave some references and history. I expressed that I was offended.
He wrote me personally and expressed his sadness at offending me and told me how much he respected my opinions and told me he was very sorry and that he meant no offence.
He took his post down.
It gave me pause to reflect on my behaviour.
I was angry. I was upset. I was annoyed by his incorrect claims regarding all the efforts and passion many of us poured into the education sphere in those previous decades that he was inadvertently criticizing. But, he did it out of a lack of information—it was not ill-intentioned.
He made the post from his reference point. My reference point is different. I am older. I have a different lived experience. He is speaking from his lived experience.
As an educator, I should have handled things differently. As just my old regular self, I reacted and hurt this young, enthusiastic educator. My ego and my ‘self’ got in the way of a more measured and appropriate response.
A good teacher wouldn’t make another learner feel foolish. I did that today.
I was a bad teacher.
And I apologize for that. And, I will learn from that.
I think of my dear, recently departed mentor—Jim Milligan—as I write this.
He would understand me and forgive me my error.
I hope this young educator will as well.
This is a project I developed, and presented, in 1989.
It’s interesting that we are struggling with many of the same issues today—although perhaps using ‘modern’ terms.
Intentional learning has grown into knowledge building.
We still speak a great deal about metacognition.
Two of my favourites remain:
“Thinking must be a highly valued activity. Not just thinking hard, but thinking about thinking, in addition to the task.”
“Students must be engaged as coinvestigators into the processes of thinking.”
These would fall under the umbrella of the current visible thinking enthusiasm.
Fun to look back to the future.
“I’m an idiot!”
That was my thought about my crash landing shown in the video clip. I didn’t flare to slow down for the landing. Why not!?
I came to the most fascinating conclusion as I watched this video countless times on a large screen in an attempt to determine where it all went wrong,
My belief outranked reality.
My expectation outweighed all the other information that I was perceiving.
I was taking paragliding instruction. (Some people think this is why I was an idjit. LOL) I had completed ground school and some canopy handling on the ground. Now it was time for my first training flight.
You get attached to a tow rope connected to a winch placed some hundreds of metres away. This winch has a tension indicator on it so that the tow operator knows how much tension is on the rope. For the first flight, you get towed fairly strongly at first and fly several metres off the ground. At the right moment, the tow operator reduces the tension enough to stop the forward pull but still have the rope advancing ahead of the pilot so it doesn’t get in the way.
In the video, you will see that the take-off went quite well as I, at first, resisted the tension, as I was supposed to, and then took many small steps ‘til take off! Good one Peter! J
A couple of seconds later, the canopy started to turn, so I acted properly and pulled the correct line to straighten it out.
Then, I was expecting to continue my flight. I was moving forward still. I believed I was to continue flying. It was a strong belief. But, alas, it was the wrong belief! The operator had reduced the tension so I could land.
But I didn’t flare. I didn’t pull on the brakes.
My expectation–my belief–was more powerful than the ground approaching quickly!
Information that should have been extremely vivid and impactful eluded me.
How often, do we as educators, not see the obvious because our beliefs are so strongly interfering with reality?
I had lunch yesterday with a former student of mine. It was my first year teaching. I was 21. She was 10. It was the early seventies. It was some forty years ago.
She proceeded to tell me how I changed her life through an art lesson on perspective and, specifically, on ‘how to see’ and to draw a tree. Her description was detailed and formidable. The actions I suggested and the emotions created in her changed the way she has looked at things since.
This former charge of mine then continued with countless other intricate stories of her learning and my teaching. I listened in amazement—and, admittedly, with much pleasure.
One of the things she said she loved most was that I was present. I listened and genuinely seemed to care.
I was flattered at having such a profound impact on this person.
Not All Good
But, I know, it wasn’t like that for all students in my classes throughout the years. I am sure not all had the benefit of my good side. What about those times when my weaknesses were in play?
My skilful switchblade of sarcasm.
My impatience and dreadful dismissiveness.
What about those times?
What impact did that have on some children?
Hey teacher. Choose your impact.
Well, another of life’s lessons came to me in a strange and humorous way recently!
You can be looking for something – very hard – and not see it at all. Yet, when viewed with a different lens – there it is. Revealed.
On a day off from ISTE12, a few of us went to La Jolla where @brendasherry @rebrouse and I went snorkeling in search of Leopard sharks. They are harmless, so we were bravely lying face down in the water for an hour or so – coming up for the occasional cleaning of the mask and all. I had with me a brand new underwater camera with one of those awful LCD viewfinders popular on point and shoot digital cameras. You can see VERY little when the sun is shining, light glaring off the water and you are wearing a foggy mask!
I only took about six shots I was so disgusted!
Anyway, I gave up on the photography.
We didn’t see any sharks. We saw lots of sand.
And then, when I arrived home, and moved the pictures from camera to computer – yep — there it was! As plain as day!
A shark. (Click image for better view! And, no! I didn’t Photoshop it in. I’m not that smart!)
Sometimes, methinks you need to use a different lens to see the world.