Sitting above children are numerous infrastructures designed to orgnise teaching and learning, from government policy, syllabus, school governance down to scope and sequences. All of this is linear documentation designed to provide the best learning for children. A parents, we experienced that and now place out children into that structure. We don’t have a choice. We are further limited by geography, culture, faith and financial capacity to select which school our children can attend.
So this might sound self-serving, guess what I don’t care. I am a parent and I want my kids to enjoy relevant schooling.
We are assuming that we provide a macro experience via scope and sequence – and that the teacher will be able to differentiate the emotional, intellectual or intrinsic learning preference of our children. I am reminded of the childrens nursery rhyme and wonder if Wednesday’s child has far to go or if Thursdays’ child is full of woe. The rhyme perhaps indicates we have always known that everyone is an individual. At some point we decided that trying to average out what we mean by a ‘student’ at any stage of development is somehow better. Maybe now we finally have an opportunity to rethink it.
Can technology enhance learning by including parents and students to add input to it? Perhaps ePortfolios are a way of doing this. But to be effective they need to be individualized. I know that is what teacher are charged to do, but seriously, it does not always happen that way. If Thursdays child is indeed full of woe, perhaps that is because the daily content dump and ‘programmed’ learning schedule doesn’t allow them to explore things they are passionate about. The way we organize schools does not promote sufficient time to explore things children find ‘more’ interesting.
It is now possible to model better individualized learning. We can use technology to mediate between the child’s interests and the syllabus requirements. Teachers spend an enormous amount of time ‘preparing’ for ‘scope and sequence’ delivery – and maybe by rethinking this, we can generate the time that children and teachers need to work together more closely.
Is the ePortfolio a record of ‘what I can do’, or ‘how I leaned to do’? Why for example, why can’t a parent or student have input into that ‘scope and sequence’. We have the technology to do this. We are saying that ‘learning is a conversation’, but still very selective about whom participates and on what terms that takes place. I am not suggesting that all of the student, parent or teacher ideas will be used – but surely the overall learning would be enhanced. If not for all kids, but for some kids, especially those with ‘differentiated needs’.
Do we simply ‘give’ the responsibility of learning (and learning in the 21C to teachers), or can we act ourselves as an intervention. I wonder what the reaction of my son’s next teacher will be when I ask why we can’t do this? Is there a policy that says what happens to my children between 9am and 3pm, for 42 weeks a year is exclusively only open to the schools determination. Why do we get a ‘term’ report of only a few lines? As we know, we are A-E reporting and the ‘comments’ are so PC and vanilla, that they are almost meaningless.
How much better for me as a parent, with a kid that has alternate-views of life that he can’t control, if I assist in the mediation process. Is it a legal, technical or social barrier – perhaps a combination. But to explore it, all parties need to agree to participate.
Thanks to everyone whos offered myself and Mr7 support this week. He’s doing better, but not at all confident about actually going to school right now. I am sure I am not the only parent in this position, nor am I the only one looking to improve the situation.