Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Limit Situations

On Oct. 23rd a group of teachers from the Spaces for Possibility learning community met with Olivia Gude to collectively explore the generative themes that had begun to emerge in their classrooms. A thoughtful and exciting conversation took place. I am in the process of collecting "takeaways" from the participants that I will later post on this blog. In the meantime, I wanted to share what I witnessed and heard during this three-hour experience.

Solving the Unresolvable... I love this idea and heard the concept come up time and time again throughout our conversation. Olivia mentioned that she prefers to think of "every problem as a curriculum problem." This seemed to resonate during discussions about assessment and rules and disruptions to teaching. It was remarkable to hear how many teachers agreed that the stress of grades, tests and assessments was something on many of their students' minds. The complication of having to teach in the midst of chaos was also very interesting. What is the effect of one individual (student, teacher, or administrator) sabotaging the larger learning experience?

YELLING... What is yelling? This topic was briefly mentioned during our conversations, but it stuck with me. What does it mean to yell? Is yelling a critique? A punishment? Praise? I began to think of yelling within my personal experiences. Why is the majority of my yelling angrily or sternly directed towards those that I love the most? Why do I hold in yelling at those that I despise the most? I yell in excitement when I'm cheering for a favorite team. I yell when I speak with my hard-of-hearing grandma. It seems as though one could approach yelling through a variety of Principles of Possibility - Playing, Encountering Differences, Empowered Experiencing, Deconstructing Culture, etc. I wonder about the benefits of yelling and what it can do to relieve stress. I could use that. 

NOT just ARRIVING at a theme... This seems to be an important statement to revisit throughout the process of developing comprehensive contemporary curriculum. Olivia continues to reminds us that this is a process and showed us examples of how Spiral Workshop has worked through a sequence of themes. We talked about going bigger and bigger with a theme... how a theme may emerge and then we can continue to pull new ideas and new themes out of it. I thought Jeanne's method for pulling out themes (Root Cause Analysis) was a good example of this. After students have generated a response or questions to a particular theme or issue, they use a color-coding system to breakdown the problem into Intrapersonal - Interpersonal - Institutional - Historical connections. I would love to learn more about this method. 

These are my "takeaways" from our engaging conversation. What were yours? What is your response to some these "takeaways"? Do they resonate with you? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!

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