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"Telling teaching and the dilemma of doing"

Donald Freeman Center for Teacher Education, Training, and Research School for International Training

Telling: the Actor, the Drama Critic, and the Storyteller Vivian Paley is a preschool teacher who began audio taping her kindergarten classes as a way of 'listening to what children say.' (Paley 1986a). Her efforts launched her into two decades of writing about what went on among the learners in her classrooms. She says of this endeavor: The classroom has all the elements of theater, and the observant, self-examining teacher will not need a drama critic to uncover character, plot, and meaning. We are, all of us, the actors trying to find the meaning of the scenes in which we find ourselves. (1986b, 131) As a teacher capturing her own work, Paley balances how the insider as 'actor' and the outsider as 'drama critic' see things. As the teacher, she played a lead role in creating and sustaining the plot of her class. Then, later, as she listened to the tape of what her children said, she found she could 'uncover character, plot, and meaning' of the drama in which she was a key player. She thus embodies the essential human drive to observe and make sense of one's world. As she says, 'We are, all of us, ... trying to find the meaning of the scenes in which we find ourselves.'

What is telling teaching? I begin with Vivian Paley's comments because they frame what I would like this column to be about. Like an anthropologist, Paley devotes considerable energy and talent to understanding her own students as they go about learning. She uses the twin processes of observation, or trying to truly see what is happening, and self-examination, or what we might call reflection. She thus embarks on studying both the outer and the inner worlds of her work as a teacher. This process is what I would call telling teaching. The work combines careful, disciplined examination of what is happening in among students as they learn, with self-examination and reflection on why that learning is unfolding as it is and how one's teaching fits into the puzzle. To tell teaching, then, is to examine what is going on in one's classroom, to question why it happens as it does, and to assess how one's teaching is suiting that learning.

Why does it matter? In this last phrase, 'how one's teaching is suiting that learning,' there is a clear statement of value and belief. Caleb Gattegno (1976), the instigator of the Silent Way, used to write and talk about how teaching needed to be subordinated to learning. Like Maria Montessori, who pioneered work in child-centered elementary education with her philosophy of 'following the child,' Gattegno advocated for the primacy of learning over teaching. Between teaching and learning, learning is the more powerful and comprehensive process of the two. Learning can be present without teaching; but, as Earl Stevick asked in Teaching languages: A Way and Ways, can you say you have taught if someone has not learned? As teachers, we tend to forget, or at least overlook, this commonplace when we are in the classroom. We can fall into the false and untenable logic that what we are doing as teachers is somehow causing our students to learn. This process of telling teaching can be an invaluable corrective to that illusion; it can recenter the process of teaching on learning and what learners are doing. There is a second, and perhaps more political, reason for why telling teaching matters. Teaching centers on activity, on doing things with students that may lead to learning. But because the common perception is that teaching causes learning, teachers are constantly caught in the dilemma of whether what they are doing is the 'right' thing, whether there might be something 'better' that could be more effective, enjoyable, etc. Psychologist Eleanor Duckworth has spent her professional life 'understanding children's understandings'. In her essay, "The virtues of not knowing", Duckworth (1987) speaks about this dilemma of doing. She writes that "in most classrooms, it is the quick right answer that is appreciated. Knowledge of the answer ahead of time is, on the whole, more valued than ways of figuring it out." (p. 64). In concluding, she makes the observation that, "What you do about what you don't know is, in the final analysis, what determines what you will ultimately know." (1987; p. 68). Unfortunately most teaching is not oriented towards 'not knowing;' students and teachers are byand-large not encouraged to take risks, to speculate, and to probe things they are not sure of. The pressures of accountability-- as measured by covering curriculum, successful performances on standardized assessments, and of maintaining classroom order and authority-- leave many teachers with little space to explore what does not make sense, what they do not have an answer for, or what they do not understand about their students' learning. References: Duckworth, Eleanor. 1987. "The virtues of not knowing". In The having of wonderful ideas and other essays on teaching and learning. New York: Teachers College Press. Gattegno, Caleb. 1976. The commonsense of teaching foreign languages. New York: Educational Solutions.

McDonald, Joseph. 1992. Teaching: Making sense of an uncertain craft. New York: Teachers College Press. Paley, Vivian. 1986a. "On listening to what children say." Harvard Educational Review, 56 (2), pp. 122-131. Paley, Vivian. 1986b. Mollie is three: Growing up in school. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Povestirea predrii i dilema lucrului bine fcut

Donald Freeman Centrul de formare i cercetare pentru profesori coala internaional de formare

A povesti: Actorul, Criticul i Povestitorul Vivian Paley este o educatoare care a nceput s-i nregistreze grupele de la grdini ca o metod de ascultare a ceea ce spun copiii. (Paley 1986a). A scris timp de dou decenii despre ceea ce se ntmpla cu elevii si. Iat cteva observaii n urma demersului su. Clasa are toate elementele teatrale, iar observatorul, educatorul, nu va avea nevoie de un critic de teatru pentru a descoperi personajele, intriga i semnificaiile. Suntem cu toii actorii care ncearc s gseasc semnificaia scenelor n care noi nine jucm un rol. Ca educator ce i nregistreaz propria munc, Paley compar felul n care actorul i criticul de teatru vd lucrurile din interior, respectiv din exterior. Ea a jucat rolul principal n crearea i susinerea intrigii clasei sale. Apoi, mai trziu, ascultnd nregistrrile a ceea ce spuneau copiii, ia dat seama c poate s descopere personajele, intriga i semnificaiile piesei de teatru n care ea juca rolul cheie.

Ce este povestirea predrii? ncep cu observaiile lui Vivian Paley pentru c acestea schieaz ceea ce vreau s redau n acest articol. Asemenea unui antropolog, Paley aloc mult energie i talent n ncercarea de a-i nelege pe elevii si n procesul de nvare. Ea folosete observaia pentru a nelege cu adevrat ce se ntmpl n clas i reflecia sau meditaia asupra propriilor activiti. Astfel, i propune s studieze att lumea interioar ct i cea exterioar a muncii sale de dascl. Acesta este procesul pe care eu l denumesc povestirea predrii i presupune examinarea atent i disciplinat a ceea ce se ntmpl n grupa de elevi implicat n procesul de nvare, precum i propria reflecie asupra felului n care se desfoar procesul educativ i a rolului educatorului. A povesti nvarea nseamn a observa ce se ntmpl ntr-o clas i a aprecia dac stilul de predare al educatorului este unul adecvat nevoilor de nvare.

Importana Ultima fraz reprezint o afirmaie de valoare i o convingere. Caleb Gattengo (1976), din Silent Way, obinuia s scrie i s vorbeasc despre faptul c predarea trebuie s fie subordonat nvrii. Ca i Maria Montessori, deschiztoare de drumuri n educaia centrat pe copil prin filosofia ei de a fi pe urmele copilului, Gattegno consider c nvrea este pe primul loc, naintea predrii. nvarea, spre deosebire de predare, este un proces mai intens i mai cuprinztor. nvarea poate avea loc fr predare, dup cum Earl Stevick ntreab n Teaching languages: putem afirma c am predat dac nimeni n-a nvat? Ca nvtori sau profesori, avem tendina de a uita sau cel puin de a trece cu vederea acest fapt cnd suntem n clas. Putem cdea n raionamentul fals i nejustificat c ceea ce facem noi ca dascli i determin oarecum pe elevi s nvee. Procesul de povestire a predrii poate fi o metod excelent de corectare a acestei iluzii; poate centra din nou procesul de nvare asupra nvrii i asupra activitii elevilor. Exist un al doilea motiv pentru care povestirea predrii este important. Predarea este centrat pe activitile realizate cu elevii pentru a-i determina s nvee. Deoarece percepia general este c predarea declaneaz nvarea, nvtorii i educatorii sunt prini mereu n aceeai dilem, i anume dac ceea ce fac este bine pentru elevii lor, dac nu exist alte metode mai eficiente, mai plcute. Psihologul Eleanor Duckworth a studiat de-a lungul ntregii sale cariere felul n care copiii raioneaz. n eseul su, Virtuile lui Nu tiu, Duckworth vorbete despre aceast dilem. Ea scrie c n majoritatea claselor, acesta este cel mai rapid rspuns corect apreciat. Cunoaterea rspunsului nainte de timp este, per ansamblu, mai bine cotat dect ncercarea de a-l afla. (p. 64). n concluzie, ea face urmtoare observaie: Ceea ce faci despre ceea ce nu tii este, n cele din urm, determinarea a ceea ce vei tii. (1987; p. 68). Din pcate, de cele mai multe ori predarea nu este orientat nspre recunoaterea faptului de a nu ti. Elevii i dasclii nu sunt ncurajai n general s-i asume riscuri, s speculeze i s probeze lucruri de care nu sunt siguri. Presiunea responsabilitilor numeroase, parcurgerea programei, respectarea evalurii standard i meninerea disciplinei n clas nu le permite nvtorilor s aib timpul necesar nelegerii a ceea ce nu merge bine la clas.

Bibliografie Duckworth, Eleanor. 1987. "The virtues of not knowing". In The having of wonderful ideas and other essays on teaching and learning. New York: Teachers College Press. Gattegno, Caleb. 1976. The commonsense of teaching foreign languages. New York: Educational Solutions. McDonald, Joseph. 1992. Teaching: Making sense of an uncertain craft. New York: Teachers College Press.

Paley, Vivian. 1986a. "On listening to what children say." Harvard Educational Review, 56 (2), pp. 122-131. Paley, Vivian. 1986b. Mollie is three: Growing up in school. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Sursa articolului: http://www.hltmag.co.uk/jan00/mart1.htm, Humanising Language Teaching, Year 2; Issue 1; January 2000