I read with concern, an article in the SMH promoting Eddie Woo as the ‘Flipped Classroom”. In 1993, Alison King published “From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side which really puts this ‘new idea’ into context – and from that, I’m going to look at the issues this kind of media article is creating.
The article is old news being repurposed. Aside from a media image of Woo (the one that shows up in Twitter and searches), Woo is used to positioning the article, nothing more and part of the current ‘media currency’ used to attract clicks. We could have seen an image of King, Kohn or any number of academics who have argued for a ‘different approach’ to teaching. So why choose Woo, given the article is constructed from academic media grabs.
The article meanders through the idea of a flipped classroom and attempts to suggest Macquarie University is new-innovative by including this in its pre-teacher training “as a trial” and that this will then take seed in the ‘real world’ as a result.
First of all, the flipped classroom is not new by any reckoning. It’s not even new to Macquarie. I personally know of several education lecturers who have been doing that at Macquarie for many years.
Secondly, Mr Woo is constantly being media-touted as the poster-boy for DEC innovation. Somehow Woo is the embodiment of the neo-DEC ‘quality teacher’. He’s probably a great bloke – but that’s not the point – the point is that DEC has arrived at a point where certain people can enjoy using media because of the work of others who have fought for media, in systems railing against policymakers who have worked very hard to stop it. The construction of Woo is problematic – not least as he’s said some less than accurate or useful things about ‘teachers’ and ‘schools’ on the ABC’s Drum and other sites … so the idea that Woo is a ‘super teacher’ is problematic for us all, including him.
DEC banned YouTube and social media for students and teachers for well over a decade – the decade in which Khan and others used video to flip the classroom. This idea that a ‘super teacher’ has overcome this is fantasy. DEC teachers were routinely sanctioned for using ‘un-approved’ media and spend vast amounts of time and money ‘banning’ media.
The fact they now have a ‘super teacher’ for media promotion is a somewhat late and disingenuous attempt to deny decades of out of step policy and belief. It is also highly ignorant of those teachers who have given their I.P and time to working with new media (without pay/reward/promotion) for over a decade.
Plenty of teachers were flipping their classroom a decade ago and indeed DEC worked with other sectors (under the Education Revolution Funding) to create PLANE – a project to bring exactly this kind of media use to rank and file teachers. Despite PLANEs success – it was disbanded and all it’s IP lost as the various media stores and stories were simply DELETED.
The article then moved to Visual Arts in an attempt to compare it to STEM. STEM is not a subject. It can’t be studied for the HSC, however the attempt to link it is made. Visual Arts in the HSC cannot be compared to STEM in any useful way, nor can it be shown that Visual Art HSC students are dropping the subject to study STEM. It’s also worth pointing out that the ‘new’ National Curriculum for Visual Arts is yet to be ratified. Furthermore, the current ‘digital’ technology subjects – IPT, SDD have seen students leave them in droves for years. IPT is out of date and irrelevant to today’s media world and SDD is basically for those few students willing to take on Visual Basic or some other old programming language their teacher uses in the computer room – which for the last decade has also been in decline as schools fail to invest in computer technology and instead fumble about with cheap laptops, 3D printers and simple robots.
This ticks me off obviously. Firstly, there is a persistent culture of ignoring what is actually needed, what could be done – and who can do it. Instead, selected ‘Edu Celebrities” and “consultants” are left to re-write history and present us with a vision of schools being ‘on the edge’ of attaining some new position – where they have been for decades. It’s a perfect position, whereby nothing has to be done and everything that has been done can be ignored. DEC is no nearer implementing media-education today than it was a decade ago, where it banned media wholesale, refused to allow BYOD and ignored the impact of media-cultures and mobile devices.
Teachers are left to deal with this on a daily basis – and no amount of Eddie Woo is going to reform this culture, nor is having 1% of a University pre-teacher program dabble in media going to compensate for increasing disadvantage in schools – which has been deliberately enacted though policy.
We have no ‘media’ subject in the HSC and perhaps some elements might appear in the new Visual Arts syllabus. However, media and media cultures are a worthy subject in their own right – and academics have been arguing for their inclusion in schools for decades. Having a media-savvy public is perhaps not in the best interests of government or policymakers.
It’s worth also pointing out we have had programming, robots, micro-controllers, engineering and design in TAS for years – and yet we are constantly being told – in media articles such as this, where constructed images are presented to the public, schools are a) on the cusp of change b) this change will remove disadvantage and improve schools and c) that teachers remain individually inept and require poster-boys to inspire them.
Give me a break. Plenty of ‘us’ have been screaming for media education: social media, digital diet, gaming; virtual worlds, media-labs etc for decades. Today, the image of future schools is placed in the hands of media-articles, consultants who bang on about Minecraft and a line of commercial experts selling solutions.
The reality is that schools are already responsible for well over 50% of children’s daily use of media. Schools rely on the Internet so much, and kids spend four to six hours a day using technology.
Sadly, this is all to often to shovel content and ‘tasks’ to them in basic levels of SAMR. There are lots of reasons for that – training, opportunity, location, culture, socio-economic etc., and so ‘flipping the classroom’ is about as useful as saying “wear novelty socks”.
Kids are already immersed in their own media cultures – and bring that into class every day – yet expected to somehow switch off from their own Oasis. The idea that there are some ‘experts’ with YouTube channels that can swap classwork for homework (as if homework is useful) – that STEM is on the rise because Visual Arts are now un-interesting etc., is utter rubbish.
I’m amazed at how easily this is not placed on line as truth.