This week’s readings made me feel a bit like I was travelling back in time…
Seriously though, what century are we living in? Is Frederick Taylor’s Factory Model of education still so pervasive and pernicious in Canada and USA as Fullan & Langley (2014) posit? If it is, boy am I glad I’m an international educator.
I can’t empathize with this nonsense and, yeah, I guess that’s why we need constant provocations from disruptors like Will Richardson. It’s like a portal back to “Reaganomics” and “No Child Left Behind”.
“The Achievement Gap” – ?
I’m sure you’ve heard the voices — “The pandemic serves as this great provocation to change things!”
However, here we stand. How many schools have changed or just gone back to “the way we do things”.
Ultimately, my point here is, we don’t need to “Close the gap”, we just need to be human in this endeavor of teaching and learning. Learning alongside our learners, putting relationships first, fostering leadership and empowerment in our learners, being more of a mentor rather than a sage on the stage.
This is a conversation about human agency in learning; not coercion, compliance, and the making of robots eating the proverbial slop, like it or not.
Agency… yes AGENCY
Agency is not something we “give” or “let” people have. It is something only taken away.
The problem is, most adults (and parents) of this generation, including myself, grew up in a doctrine of compliance. Bred for a previous century to be robots of the industrial revolution. This fosters a mindset of, “Well, it worked for me!”, when it comes to many of these children, turned educators, in their approaches to pedagogy (and in the parents, too).
This wheel was broken and, yes….needed some serious fixing. I hope we can speak in the past tense here.
I’ve been an IB PYP educator now for almost a decade, a curriculum that centers itself on inquiry-based learning, agency and authentic learning.
My teacher education was over a decade ago in New Zealand, and I can thankfully say that inquiry is very much at the core of learning there, too.
Call me ignorant, but I’m thankful that my teaching career hasn’t had exposure to being in a curriculum structure built on compliance.
The Enhanced PYP
In 2017 and 2018, the IB’s PYP really started a pivotal shift of putting Bandura’s seminal work on agency at the core, centred upon honouring voice, choice and ownership in learning, empowering learners to be self-efficacious. In other words, empowering learners to be in the driver’s seat of their own learning, summed up nicely by Mindy Slaughter, here:
This was when I really started questioning my own practice more and incorporating the precept that Edu Blogger, Vlogger and author John Spencer and Inquiry guru Trevor Mackenzie use so often:
It’s about “Letting Go”, but more about Empowerment
Look, I could go on for days about this topic which I’m extremely passionate about in education.
Just recently, I led a 30-minute nano PD for some educators on the very topic within my local PYP network, helping a former colleague, friend and PYP coordinator, Tania Mansfield, for a weekend workshop that she was leading. Here is my slide deck, which includes many excerpts from the PYP documents on agency.
I’m obviously biased, but this slide deck is a very good place to start, empowering you to make your pedagogy feel more human, Socratic, shared, co-constructed and more.
I also co-led a workshop on this very subject before the pandemic hit, at the first ever, Apple Distinguished Educator Conference in Hong Kong (November 2019; #ADKHK), with #COETAIL12 grad, and former colleague, Cindy Kaardal. Here’s a link to our slides and resources, for your perusal.
Some more current, inspiring reads on student empowerment and agency:
Questions for you: