Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Education Journal Entry
There is a lot to think about in and around the world of teaching today. Diverse contexts have always existed. However, in recent years there has been more public awareness than ever before on the nature of these contexts and the implications therein. Administrative bodies and teachers are now turning their attention to the full scope of diversity and the widely-varied, stratified representations of the student populace, in which many grey areas do exist. As such, there is an increased need for a constructivist approach to teaching; the learning is hands-on, discovery, experiential and task-based, and is employed to bolster the acquisition of knowledge and to encourage the emergence of student identity. What exactly is knowledge? It is hard to put your finger on it. It comes in many forms. We KNOW that standardized tests, state and national education boards will never recognize or emphasize the importance of each and every variant. We SUSPECT that administrative bodies are primarily concerned with measurable data as a means for sectionalizing the masses and fitting students into neat, little sub-categories to feed our American need to measure, compare and contrast. It is certainly true that test scores and conventional methods of assessment are relevant data teachers can use. However, before data, there comes the students themselves. Teachers and parents see students as comprising our youth: bright-eyed and hopeful, exhibiting qualities and talents from time to time that are unique and special, difficult to quantify by any set of standards. And yet, teachers are told to assess in a very specific way, most of the time. It is part of their job. So the question becomes, how do we encourage the development of student talent(s) that fall outside the range of the conventionally assessable? There is an entwining of ideas here. As we come to realize the plethora of grey areas of diversity and the vastness and openness of the “contextual field,” in which anything tangible today is plotted, we better understand knowledge, as the elusive immeasurable. Essentially, it is the field. Some of it is visible, though much of it is hidden away in the brush, underground, etc. Teachers need to do their best to bring this knowledge out into the open so that it can grow and manifest into something tangible. The only way for teachers to do that is to better understand the students themselves. A constructivist approach allows for this, if teacher participation is dual, in that they both facilitate and engage in the way a student would, as a learner.