Revolution by Tracy ChapmanI thought this title might be received better than ‘why special education isn’t the answer’.Pass out and explain the post-it notes as mini postcards that I use in class and that they can use tonight . . .
I think this is a fundamental question that needs to be answered before we can make changes to the education system on a large scale. How would you answer this? How would your parents answer this? Your kids? And before taking the easy route with why not both, this may be a case where there really is an either/or . . . As a system, I think we need to believe that being educated is what matters. What happens after that is not our domain – but it may well prove a benefit for humanity if we begin to truly educate AHA! Perhaps at the ages we work with, it really is about rote memory to train the cognitive muscles for use later . . . But then where do we train for creativity . . Recent announcement by Min. Ed – addressing class size and composition – be careful what we ask for –
Aspects include curriculum, teaching methods, assessment strategies, subject divisions – here is a post card; when talking about subjects and wondering why they are all compartmentalized, Carter – with more than a little frustration said – it’s like I’ve been told all about flour and all about yeast but no one told me about bread!buildings, how we group kids,
MarionPorath and Judy Lupart - study of student perspectives on teaching and learning; Gifted Children’s Representations of Learner Identities;Susan Balieri and Janis Knopf – Normalizing difference in inclusive teaching 2004Marc Bracket, Shelley Hymel and others for SEL - Reggio Emelia?? For provocation, creativity and 100 languages of children project . . . Vygotsky – learning and environment are linked through social processes – the social aspects of learning as well as the child first approach (think ZPD) – as well as learning as building on itself (constructivist) (knowledge is not given but gained by active engagement . . . )Skrtic – systems both support and create culture
Why – this might seem ironic - especially in light of my (hopefully to be) recent upgrades specifically in the special education field . . . Our current K-12 culture and curriculum is designed and implemented for the big group in the middleAnd we have had some successes with this approach – but we have also lost more than we could possibly know by not reaching those on the edgesandThere is both a moral and legal responsibility for inclusive education – equal access to learningSo we now have special education (like the stuff in the middle isn’t special?) where we as teachers adapt, tweak and modify to meet these responsibilities
But no end of tinkering will make it all fitAnd it certainly won’t feel dignifiedAnd the purpose is often lost because these outliers are too busy either trying to get by unnoticed or fit in or just get to a place where they will fitDo you feel dignified?Do you have purpose (other than to get your own shoes – or car – that fits)WE need to shift away from our current approach of designing education for the average child for 3 key reasons:It does not foster equityStandardization is not optimizing for anyone! – Ken R quotePerpetuates the teacher centered approach to learning
This was a quote from Marion that I reworked a little; the original is “the essence of our effort to see that every child has a chance must be to assure each an equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become different – to realize whatever unique potential of body, mind and spirit he or she possesses.The current system is not ensuring that the children at the edges discover their potential. It is making sure that they are ‘enough like us’ to deserve credit; graduate; or move to the next level.
By designing and teaching to the middle, we are supporting a self-limiting system. After reading Thomas West, In the Minds Eye, I came away wondering how cool it would be if all those average students had the opportunity to see what was on the edges – what would their aspirations be if the edges of learning and understanding were celebrated?http://sirkenrobinson.com/skr/bring-on-the-learning-revolution
Even the stuff for the gang in the middle is kind of lame; it is still us (teachers and other well-meaning people) telling rather than listening . . . My best days as a teacher happen when I get totally derailed by a good question from the class – they are connecting, sending postcards, building understanding . . . And it doesn’t happen when I hang on to the stuff that I had designed for the average student . . .
So I recognize that this is a pretty big deal – a complete overhaul, renovation, for how we do education. ‘Make it so’ won’t make it so – so now what?How do we get there? (and is there really a there or is it just a constant striving for better – Kaizen!) This might be a moment when you have a postcard (post-it) for me . . . SEL as a base PTR ?AFL is powerful as wellAnd structure – and language . . . But I like creativity/provocation !Clumped into 2 main groups – work to change what and how of curriculum and teaching – system stuffAnd how to get these postcards and what do they mean?!
SEL is the base, the underpinnings, the foundation on which the rest of the structure for equity can be built. It is a necessary stage for building the relationships between student and teacher; teacher and teacher; student to student . . .Learning is social – – specific to the edges, many students with disabilities also experience the compounding effect of social dislocation. Social dislocation was originally raised as key by Vygotsky in the 1920’s – a child with a disability experienced social dislocation through the relationship of the child and environment – and this is still very much a concern today – This is setting the climate and culture – support for change - Base of common language and understandingGoing deeper, the 5 areas of competency for SEL
5 areas and the associated skills – plus what they mean for equity and postcards . . . And not just for the students but for teachers . . . Which is why we started this process with the teachers first – 2 years of learning and practice before we take to the hallways on a big scale . . . Both presentations are on my blog if you are interestedSelf –awareness = what values do we hold; what emotions can we recognize, and show, what is our go-to response? From this, what are our strengths and weaknesses in this area?Social awareness = how well do we understand the emotions and needs of others; how is our perspective taking ability?Self-management = the ability to regulate our emotions and behaviours to achieve our own goals ex: resiliency and perseveranceRelationship skills = the forming and maintaining of positive relationships; the ability to manage conflicts; the ability to ask for helpDecision making = assessing risks; respecting others; owning our own decisions
Lastly, if we never get to renovate for equity, with effective, embedded SEL in a school, at least we have a chance to make the lasting message a positive one . . .
The other tool that I would like to highlight is the use of provocations in the classroom – and developing creativity and supporting creativity both as/for teachers and for students.As a group we have some familiarity from the classes with Marion – but I see some parallels with the idea of a provocation and the postcards that our students are sending. (beyond just feeling like we as teachers are being provoked – although maybe this is just a high-school thing)Ginger group – a spicy, pungent root that acts as a stimulantSeeing these postcards as a provocation puts us back on the learning-mastery continuem – we don’t have all the answers They may jiggle the minds of the other students in the class – oh - I never thought of it that way . . . Something that produces assynchronicity and can help our minds jump across tracks – lateral thinkingCreative connections may come from this asynchronicity – (if we practice patience and other social emotional skills)Creativity – could be redefining or reframing problems;A different analysis of ideas – seeking bizarre connectionsInvolves risk taking – and decision making – which new ideas will come forward and which need more work – how confident do you feel with the new idea?Also involves persuasion – convincing others that your new thing has value – All of which also supports the idea that solid SEL skills are needed to support creativity in education -
Some books I would like to revisit – and one to begin -
Being creative and flexible – not regimented and unyeilding - Read quote from Bono Business analogy – if the most challenging customers are satisfied – doesn’t it seem reasonable the ‘easy’ customers will be well taken care of?
close with Moby, The Rafters.
Is it an education that matters; or is it the opportunities that come from being educated that matter? (Can we have both?)
Design all aspects of our education system from the edges, the outliers, instead of from the middle.
Gifted Children’s Representations of Learner Identities (Porath and Lupart) Normalizing Differences in Inclusive Teaching (Balieri and Knopf) Social Emotional Literacy (Brackett, Hymel, Schonert- Reichl) 100 Languages of Children and Reggio Emelia
The essence of equity is to ensure that every child has the opportunity not to become equal , but to become different – to realize their own unique potential. Adapted from John Fischer
Standardization tends to emphasize the lowest common denominator. Human aspirations reach much higher and if the conditions are right they succeed. Understanding those conditions is the real key to transforming education for all our children. Ken Robinson
Learning is an active process that requires legitimate engagement with ideas and knowledge.
Learning is a social process (Vygotsky) so learning how to be social would be a good place to startCreates a base of safety for staff and students – change can cause stress, anxiety, moments of doubt so the ability to support is critical
Self-awareness Social awareness Self-management Relationship skills Decision making
Provocation = a statement that lies outside of our normal experience patterns (Bono, 1991) Creativity = to produce novel ideas (that, in hindsight, have value)
In the minds eye; visual thinkers, gifted people with dyslexia and other learning difficulties – Thomas G. West Mindset – Carol Dweck 2008 I am right; you are wrong – Edward de Bono 1991 The Bureaucratic Experience: The Post-Modern Challenge - Ralph P. Hummel