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.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Narrative- a learning connector

These are more thoughts stemming from the social experiment at the Graduate school of Education at Bristol University.

A central, recurring tenet of the enquiry I took part in was that of narrative. To start the enquiry we were tasked to find an "object" in Brandon Hill nature reserve to enquire about. We were firstly asked to describe it , then think of a story why we connected with it, before thinking divergently creating a multitude of questions.
My initial thoughts were slightly dismissive, doubting the likelihood of discovering something that delighted my curiosity and that I had a personal connection with. After all why should I find something 300 miles from home in a place I had never been before. And I'm a butch , scientific, aesthete of a Geordie to boot.
So my initial findings were what you'd expect. A tree, a fence, an object. I saw and thought nothing above the ordinary. Yet on asking myself why I connected with them quickly turned choosing one thing to enquire about into being spoilt for choice. The tree was suddenly a Lime tree also known as a linden tree, so memories of drinking cold Lindeboom beer in a student bar many moons ago came flooding back. The fence around Cabot tower reminded me of the now restored Saltwell towers in my local (resplendent) park which lay derelict for most of my life, which I also used to eat my lunch beneath of a seldom seen friend.
A warning sign that read "Water Hazard" reminded me of playing Wii with my son , and his ability to read. The family trip which took through a golf course which saw him demand "so which bit is out of bounds?!?!"
This process amazed me, the amount of emotion that it stimulated was astonishing, in fact was too much at times and steered me away from certain choices. But, the positive influence this had impacted over the following two days not only in engagement with the process but also with sustained motivation.
On hearing my colleagues choices and their reasoning my experience was obviously far from unique, in fact it was the norm. All had personal, emotive reasons for their choice, all had chosen to reveal ( or not) something of themselves by doing so. Our narratives began to entwine here, helping to form that all important community of learners.
The very nature of enquiry based learning, with its valuing of the process taken, is enhanced by this narrative as it tessellates the original connection with the subsequent connections made whilst learning. The experience is all the more rich for that as everything resonates with personal value, and it all stems from a simple task, choose what you want to do just think about what it means to you.
The questions this raises over how learning happens? How learners become engaged ? What implications this kind of learning experience has on structuring a curriculum? Are difficult and worth persevering with.

Just as I was about to press publish I realised that I have not even states what my choice was. Nor the narrative that led to it's choice or how this narrative developed. I'm not even sure of the importance in doing so, therefore I won't , as the my learning here is all processed based and not restricted to enquiry based learning. Making or more importantly allowing students to make that personal connection with what is being learned is not an educational luxury it's a necessity.

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