To what extent has the module ‘Becoming an Educationalist’ prepared you for the reality of becoming an educationalist?
Becoming has been the most unique and creative module with the Education studies course at the London Metropolitan. It’s content has been all-encompassing and has helped me greatly in other modules, yet the real lesson has been the way in which the content has been delivered; the module is democratic and relies heavily on the dialogic. It lets us express ourselves honestly and freely, and asks that we allow others to do the same. Becoming has made me question why we as people rather than just students do or think certain things, and makes us ask if there isn’t another way, after all, “‘Learning is about gathering new ideas and information” (Sinfield, S and Burns, T, 2015 p. 52). I will be showing how these traits – amongst others – have helped prepare me for becoming an educationalist, and will be drawing on examples of activities that I have partaken in during the module. This will include simulations and role play, multimodal exhibitions and blogging, as well as others.
One of our initial lessons in the becoming module revolved around a scenario where there had been a nuclear war which had completely destroyed the planet. We then had to choose from ten varying survivors and argue our case for each one so that they may get a place in bunker which was only able to sustain 3 people. This simulated activity involved role play as we each took on a different character and had to convince the others that we we worth enough to be saved. The benefit of role play is that it promotes students into transitioning from “passive to active learners” (Paquette, 2012). I enjoyed this module as the scenario itself was completely different to my expectations of this module. While at first I couldn’t see the reasoning behind the activity, as it drew to a close it became much clearer. As a class we discussed who we would keep in and why, and through this dialogic we viewed the same briefly described characters through the eyes of our classmates and all imagined their worth in very different ways.
This was my first introduction to the theories of Neo-Kantianism and Utilitarianism, as well as a refresher on the common sense. It seems a great educationalist must at times play devil’s advocate – while not maybe agree, always trying to understand opposing ideas – as well as utilising a sense of empathy to try and see something you take for granted in a different way. We ended by the lecture by being given differing opinions on education and put into 3 groups to do triadic reflection. This is where 2 people discussed their thoughts or feelings on an opinion, while the 3rd person observed. At the end it was up to them to add anything that they felt could be expanded upon, or to include something that had been missed completely. This was a natural progression from our earlier activity and cemented the ideas of understanding contrary theories and ideologies, as well as helping us realise the importance and potential of the dialogic.
During another lesson we were asked to explore the University campus as participant observers, and to discover its formal and informal learning spaces. We were told to chose from a different range of mediums and then to present our work to the class. As a group we chose to make a short film detailing our exploration of the building and it’s people. Sir Ken Robinson’s Ted talk on “do schools kill creativity” (Robinson, 2006) was a great influence on this project, both in terms of our decision to make a video, and in helping us consider informal learning spaces and the limitations of traditional classroom learning. We walked around the university and filmed ourselves and others interacting with both the building and each other. This activity was an opportunity for us to showcase ourselves as much as the work itself, and in a non conventional way. It was also our first opportunity to work in a group, and a good means of preparation for the activities to come, and necessity for cooperation that comes with all aspects of life.
Filming and producing a video was relatively easy compared to the idea of showing it to our classroom. However we as a group were very proud of our video, and the positive feedback we received was the most rewarding aspect of our presentation, and was fantastic for the self efficacy of all those who were involved. The idea of the exploration – specifically the formal and informal aspect of it – showed us all that learning cannot be restricted by a curriculum or contained to a classroom. Learning takes many forms, and therefore can flourish in many different environments (Thornburg, 2007). Learning is like breathing; we are all doing it all the time and very often without even realising. As an educationalist it is vital to remember that, and also to realise not all education is taught or learnt consciously, but rather obtained just by being with people in a meaningful setting (Illich, 1971)
The longest running activity we took part in during the Becoming module was blogging. We were each asked at the beginning of the academic year to write a weekly blog detailing what we had done in each lesson and what we thought about it, along with any new terminology or concepts that we should learn or investigate. Chloes blog, (NOBLECHLOE) was a great inspiration for me when it came to figuring out how to write my blog, as it showed me how important your own voice can be. Writing the blog was great practice for when it comes to writing finals essays, though was much less daunting as we were told that we should write in our own voice rather than attempting to make the blogs sound academic. This runs a lot deeper than just using our own vocabulary or vernacular; the blog was a chance to discover theories and practices and to write about not just our understanding, but how we felt about them and in what way we found them relevant to us, as well as to others through reading their own blogs, and in turn discovering their thoughts, feelings and opinions.
Many of our lessons presented us with more questions than they did answers. With so many theorists, ideologies, ideas and educational terminology being thrown around it would’ve been impossible to find all the answers in one lesson. Keeping detailed notes for a blog not only recorded answers, but also presented us with questions to answer ourselves. Blogging opened up doors of online connectivity and heutagogy. Blogging for ourselves and interacting with the blogs of ours prepared us acknowledge and accept that everyone experiences the same things in greatly differing ways, and to respect the views and opinions as others, as well as learning from them.
In conclusion, my experience of Becoming is that it is a module of contradictions; it isn’t trying to teach us a particular curriculum or an agreed ideology of education, but is instead trying to get us learn about as many contrary and conflicting ideologies and theories as possible, and to then question that which we already believe we know and take for granted. An educationalist shouldn’t teach as much as inspire others to want to learn themselves, and this has been the core value of the module, not teaching, but inspiring self efficacy and heutagogy in those who attend the lessons. This is the sort of educationalist I wish to become. Not one who teaches what a government body feels needs to be taught for society, but to help people discover and learn about what they love.
An educationalist shouldn’t teach a curriculum, but teach a love of learning, and in doing so should learn alongside their students, not showing them a path to take but helping them make there own trails. Becoming educational is a module that leans heavily on new communication and social media technologies, and is therefore not confined to the classroom or to a specific date or time. The module – much like education itself occurs anywhere and at any time – whether it be through group work out of hours, reading a relevant link or article, or sharing something of interest with our classmates. Becoming is a module that has become indispensable in all aspects of our studies. The practices Becoming expects us to look at the infra ordinary and ask questions about why something is a certain way.
Becoming an educationalist has shown me that education isn’t about making people understand a particular type of content as much as it is understanding a person themselves. Each person has a very different cultural, social and economic capital and therefore will all approach and understand the same content in very different ways. It is our job as future educationalists to help nurture people’s talents and interests, and to shape a society around individuals rather than moulding individuals into useful members of society. We are not able to realistically predict what the world will look like in 10 years, so why educate people to function in a world that doesn’t exist anymore when we can instead educate them to make something of the world, as “until man has made something of himself he could make little of the world around him” (Mumford, 1984).
- Burns, T., Sinfield, S. and Sinfield, ra (2012) Essential study skills: The complete guide to success at university (SAGE Study skills series). 3rd edn. London: SAGE Publications.
- Illich, I. (1971) Deschooling society. 3rd edn. London: Calder Publications.
- Mumford, L. (1984) Technics and human development. Peter Smith Pub.
- NOBLECHLOE (no date) Available at: https://noblechloe.wordpress.com/ (Accessed: 18 May 2016).
- Paquette, L. (2012) Using role play simulations to promote active learning. Available at: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/instructional-design/using-role-play-simulations-to-promote-active-learning/ (Accessed: 25 May 2016).
- Robinson, K. (2006) Do schools kill creativity? Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity (Accessed: 23 May 2016).
- Thornburg, D.D. (2007) Campfires in Cyberspace. Starsong Publications.