Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fashioning Education

        This week the question put before us was,  "How can we make school more compelling for students.".  This is a good question.  The reading spoke of a theory in which elements that make fashion such an intriguing enterprise for our students can transpose themselves to pedagogy and, I must say, a fair bit of it made sense.  Essentially, fashion is engaging because of the level of self we put into it.  When we dress, we are actually putting on who we think we are.  We work and invest in fashion because project on it our self.  If we take these lessons learned from relationships with fashion and apply them to education, we need to fashion lessons and projects in which students can infuse their selfs.  Creating work which they feel reflects them will foster a higher level of interest in creating beautiful work.  One pedagogical movement which follows this model is PBL.  By allowing more voice and choice in project topics and design, as well as an openendedness in a finished product, the door is open for students to create their own work rather than simply meeting teacher expectations.  In this manner, interest in the work will rise as the student has more ownership and more of themselves invested in the education process.
      Having said that, one area I struggle with is the feeling that we are catering to our students somewhat excessively.  While I wholeheartedly agree that our students are fundamentally different and learn differently than their parents and that a new pedagogy is required to teach them effectively, I fear that, at times, the fact that a student is not interested in what is being taught is considered a good reason for them to not engage with it.  To what extent is the learner's lack of engagement the fault of the pedagogy or teacher and to what extent is it the fault of the learner?  Sometimes it seems that some educational theorists postulate that if a student is disengaged it is the fault of the educator who should have made the lesson more interesting to the student  I am not so sure about this.   Sometimes it seems that the lack of sufficient effort from the student or the unwillingness to focus on the work going on in class is excused by the "but this is boring!" excuse.  I do believe that our pedagogy does need to shift to encourage engagement and personalization but our students still need to work and, at times, that work will be less exciting than the video game that they would rather be playing.   In my classes, I work hard to make engaging lessons that will encourage critical thinking and creating solutions. I work to include students in designing the project and the finished product but there is still a lot of work to be done and I have yet to find a project where I don't need to cajole and push some of my students to get their work done.   If there is a solution out there, be sure to write it in the comments section!

1 comment:

  1. I wouldn't say that the problem is necessarily that the student isn't interested so much as they haven't been raised in book culture the way we were are so it's much harder for them to engage with materials that are nonvisual and not interactive. Book culture is as alien to them as passive learning was, and so it is us who need to adapt. At least that's my theory. cg