Monday, October 28, 2013

Day 450 - The first steps of learning the inability to communicate pt1

So in this post and the posts to come, I am going to write about my experience in relation to collecting data for research in a classroom of cycle 3 students, 8-10 years old.

I was filming the students interacting with ipads in the framework of a research project and I reacted with anger to how the teachers, three women, were responding to the children.

First up, I want to clarify that these teachers were already hesitant and not very enthusiastic teaching the kids, what is generally referred to as teaching "21st century skills" Although many of them use ipads on their own, they are afraid to use them in the class - here I am assuming that it is some sort of fear because this is what transpired, although indirectly, from the teacher meetings we had to kick off the project.However, my reaction was not necessarily geared towards their reluctancy to use the ipads or to integrate digital media.

The project required the children to take the ipads outside of the building about 500 m away from the school past the playground to a bunch of hedges. They were working in groups of three.Here they were supposed to take pictures of the hedges and figure out from a book which hedge they were looking at and recording these in pictures on the ipad. I was there filming from the beginning, that is I saw the instructions that were given to the children, as well as the children collecting samples of leaves and taking notes about what they saw. I was also there when they all returned to the class room and the teachers were asking each group what they found.

During the instructions, at the beginning of the project, there was no mention of what was expected of them. How to go about the various parts of the project. The only point were there was a mention about what they were looking for was the "the characteristics of the hedges". Therefore a wide palette of approaches to pictures and recordings were delivered and seen in the classroom afterwards.

This would have been all nice and well, but the teachers then started to then apply some criteria out of the blue and telling one group of children that they "forgot" to do this or that, while showing them that there work was not good enough. Even writing this out I can see my anger come up. Obviously i relate to what the kids went through. I was often sitting in class not knowing what the teacher expected of me, and feeling helpless because i did not know how to ask for clarification.

This is an interesting topic in that here is an opportunity to teach clear communication yet here are one of the early instances where we fuck up in teaching the ability to communicate by putting oneself into the shoes of another  - instead we install fear and anxiety when dealing with others who are in authority positions.

Self-forgiveness will follow.


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