I have just spent two days in the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education taking part in a social experiment based around a model of enquiry. My role was very much that of a learner. I have a huge amount to think about analysing the processes involved, connecting this experience to that of my students and how to share this learning with colleagues. I have been hugely disciplined and recorded a large quantity of my metacognitive thinking.
The first thing I've learned is by being metacognitive I have been able to work on two levels, that of a learner being strategic in what I'm doing and secondly as a way of transferring my ideas in to my classroom and that of others. I am rather hoping that after analysis the key skills that I used will become clear, categorised and therefore "teachable". I'm also hoping that the reflection of my co- enquirers will broaden this knowledge base.
This brings me neatly on to my second point. How learning is a social construct, and that (although some knew each other) a disparate group of learners so readily shared, supported and critiqued the learning of others. The process led us to work individually with small forums for discussions a learning community struck up. This contrasts with the intense work I do with my classes to build a community. Maybe it was the shared vision, small group size or the intellectual sophistication of the group, but this happened without effort! Everyone was enquiring on a variety of different themes in a highly personalised way, but during the times we shared our thinking several commonalities arose, one of which was the social nature of learning. I need to critically reflect on the frequency and the quality of these occasions in my classroom.
I started my enquiry looking at trying to identify a Dragonfly that I'd seen, I will blog about the process in more detail. Everyone had a different theme but the consistency of the level and diversity of the creative thinking was astonishing. Especially considering no request to be so was made. Time, intellectual space, safety, and a prerequisite to think divergently facilitated this. I even wrote a poem, perhaps a first which I read out (certainly a first).
You don't breathe fire
You don't even put me down with your ire
Fecundity is the name of your game
In your blue, green golden haze
Poor as this is, it does demonstrate the difficulty in teaching creativity, but the relative ease of facilitating creativity in an education setting. Another feather in the cap if enquiry based learning.
The final learning that leaps out from my experience, which is the power of narrative. This helped me make a personal connection to what I was learning and intertwined the process and content I was learning throughout the two days. It was a powerful connectivity tool.
So these are my initial thoughts, with many more to come, which will be more focused around the translation of this into classroom practice.
My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.