I recently read an article by sociologist Paul Carr, entitled, “Fifteen Things Education Students Can Do to Transform Themselves In/Through/With Education”.
The article was fundamentally about how both students studying to be teachers and those actually working as teachers often feel that their small contribution to the education world cannot make a difference, ie “What can I do?”
Carr regularly teaches Masters level sociology based subjects which focus on diversity, equity, multiculturalism and social justice. He points out the focus in these courses is more on the context than the content, more on the informal, (hidden), than the formal curriculum and more on critical analysis than the development of lesson plans and classroom management strategies. From an IFS/ITS perspective I think this is a significant aspect of our teaching ethos here.
Carr points out his list is not a shortcut to educational success but can provide a framework for a more reflective and critical understanding of our students and help us to solidify our relationships with them.
More importantly I think our students can apply many of these elements to their own learning and lives, both in and out of the classroom.
Below are a few of his 15 ‘decrees’. Please read on…
- Accept that no one knows everything and that we can always learn.
- Content is never devoid of context – we need to learn some common and specialised curricular content, we also need to learn how to learn, how to be, how to think, how to relate, how to critically examine, and how to understand and be a part of society.
- Work locally but make the linkage with the international milieu, thinking and acting locally. Why is a local business/factory shutting down, who is prospering from the breakdown on a global level?
- Media literacy is not a sound byte – media has a highly nefarious effect on developing a culture and mindset. Don’t believe everything you read, see or hear. Develop your own analysis and questions.
- Humility is an unbelievable virtue – being humble is not being a follower. It is not being disengaged nor is it considered an act of obedience.
- Be wary of being a follower – ignoring racial inequities, marginalisation and injustices.
- Read and write and seek out authors far from mainstream culture – in the era of sound bytes, blogs and Wikipedia, where anyone can post an opinion, text messaging and an over-zealous media, it is sometimes difficult to develop original, critical arguments.
- Affirm that, “I Can Do What I Can Do” – You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi.
I guess how we talk to people, how we share and discuss ideas, how we move, how we embrace, respect and include others affects our environment. As teachers, parents and students we all have a role in shaping the educational experiences we want.