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{May 21, 2008}   Not the “P” word

Yup.  I’m going to use it.  Pedagogy.  Now it’s not just a word found in text books.  It’s used in real life!  So the reason that I want to talk about the oft used, rarely defined word is this:  I find that many people don’t have a good definition of it, nor can they explain their place in it.  Maybe because it’s as elusive and difficult to define as anything we do, and some authors devote entire books on trying to define it.  Here, however, is a basic run down.  Pedagogy is the science or art of teaching.  I know, I know… if you clicked on the link it took you to Wikipedia… love it or hate it, it’s a great starting place.

So why am I all bang up for discussing it?  Because it’s been smacking me in the face since I started studying this year.  (Blogging tip #403 – try not to be vague coupled with #32 don’t tell lies)  So – since I started researching more and visiting schools this year, it seems to be hitting me that the major factor in a successful school, despite what research may say, is the ability for a) management to have a combined focus and agreeing pedagogy [for those of you following you may like to call it an agreed approach to teaching and planning] and b) to let staff slowly mould new approaches and shift in stages to embrace new ideas.  (Crap: blogging tip #2 avoid run on sentences…)  In this shifting of new ideas, it also seems that people have a very real sense of their place in their own philosophical sense of learning.  Yes I belive that students can learn through play or NO.  Get me out of here, and for God’s sake DO NOT MOVE ANY MORE TABLES!!!  Needless to say that the latter type, with time and support, end up being the ones with no tables in the room!

But still… how does this link, and when will I get to the point about why it’s bugging me.  Here goes.  I think essentially teacher’s boil down to two types.  Those who are there to educate the whole child, and those who are there to do a job, and create little academic machines who sit quietly and reach the benchmarks.  I also think that there is a major problem out there in some schools at the moment because to get to the top, you tend to be the second sort of teacher.  As a gross generalisation they have a tendency to preach to the first type of teacher and this NEVER works.  Essentially, there is a difference in what is believed to be the best and most effective art and/ or science to teaching.  It is a debate that will never go away.  However, I do challenge you this.  Think about what side of the spectrum you sit on.  If more than half you class does not make benchmark, but are able do things like

  • find and activity to do if you’re caught up in a meeting or conversation outside
  • comfort each other and recognise the difference between a good choice and a bad choice
  • think for themselves
  • help each other out
  • work independently

are you worried about them?  Or do you think that in the year you’ve had them they have achieved.  Or do you blame them and say that there’s nothing you can do – these kids will never learn.  Or do you simply freak out because obviously there’s a mistake in the testing…???

Think on it for awhile.  Mull it over.  I can see the necessity in all things academic and bureaucratic.  I do believe though that there is a developmental stage where children are ready to hit it, and I think with some children we start to early, but often, we’re not given a choice, since the data must be collected.  I think that’s where pedagogy comes into it.  What I believe to be the best art of teaching may not match up to the sceince of teaching (yup – teaching is an art form, not a science… can you fit them to type one and type two teacher mentioned earlier?) and if they don’t – either leave the business, you’re not appreciated or change schools.  There are plenty out there who a strong enough to believe that teaching is an art form and act in the best interest of the children, not the paper work.

Wow, what a rant.  Like I said the other day – don’t hold me to this opinion… I may do some more reading and completely change my mine.  Right now, however, this is what is on my mind.  I’m off – I have things to read, resources to find and rugby to watch.  Yeah.

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Ira Socol says:

yes, two types of teachers – I might call them the “industrial worker” vs the “human enablers.” Industrial Workers see themselves as turning out a product. Human Enablers see themselves allowing humans to develop. It is quite a split. Unfortunately those who fund schools, run schools, run education – tend to be “Industrial Managers.”

and thanks for knowing about the alphabet…



fancyfrog says:

Interesting that it doesn’t seem to matter where you are, there are two types of teachers. I was speaking to a friend about it the other day, and she pointed out to me that there were three – the third being those who don’t care any more. It’s a sad fact that there are also many teachers who do not know how to get out of the job, or what to do with the (transferable) skills they’ve amassed over the years.



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