Saturday, July 14, 2018

Disposition, Orientation, Cognition, and Socialness (DOCS): An Education Manifesto

Attribution

Purpose

The purpose of creating an educational manifesto is to attempt to collect and organize a set of ideas I hold true related to teaching and learning.  The rationale for sharing such an endeavor is to encourage others to think about the same and offer feedback that will continue to shape my opinions on my own educational philosophy and current teaching practice.

A manifesto is a published verbal declaration of the intentions, motives, or views of the issuer, be it an individual, group, political party or government. A manifesto usually accepts a previously published opinion or public consensus or promotes a new idea with prescriptive notions for carrying out changes the author believes should be made.

Here, a manifesto is a written declaration of my intentions, motives, and views about teaching and learning, a personal education manifesto shared with the masses if you will.  I first thought about writing my own manifesto after having read, The 27 Principles to Teaching Yourself Anything (Scribd Scoopit, Blog - in the works at the time of this writing).  But what motivates me even more are my learners.  My intention is to present this manifesto the first day of class next semester (August 13, 2018) in hopes that it presents a personal philosophy and expectations that ultimately can compare with learners' expectations they have for the class. Secondly, having an education philosophy will serve as a basis for an upcoming talk I have in September regarding strategies successful learners employ to get the most out of their studies and throughout their professional carreers as English language educators.  Although this manifesto addresses education in general, the intended audience are those interested in the teaching and learning of an additional language.

I use the accronym DOCS to catorize ideas around an education manifesto that I feel currently represents how teaching and learning emerge in both formal and informal education.  DOCS begins as a variation of the The 27 Principles... because the bulk of any educative experience primarily has to do with what the individual learner does while the educator's job is to facilitate the process. I conclude by offering a slightly more nuanced viewpoint by expanding on disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness.

DOCS as a Variant of the The 27 Principles...

Disposition

Having a good disposition is the most important tenet of DOCS since it relates to one's overall attitude.  Attitude relates to character and the will one has to keep an open mind, learn, and take action. To this end, having appreciation for what one has means not taking anything for granted. I would group the following three of the 27 priniciples as follows: 1) everything is a lesson, 2) nothing is certain, and 3) it never ends.

Orientation 

Orientation relates to metacognition, or learning how to learn.  Orientation relates to how a learner recognizes where they have been, where they are currently, and where they want to be in the future as it pertains to their own learning journey.  I group the following five of the 27 principles as follows: 1) learn who you are, 2) learn what you love, 3) learn what you hate, 4) don't assume anything, 5) what if everyone had it backwards.

Cognition

Cognition refers to how one makes relationships between theory (what others say about the topic) and practice (what you have to say about the topic).  Relying solely on what others say or ignoring what others say superficially frames cognition as shallow thinking or the opposite of critical thinking.  Thus, to think critically in a way that recognizes theory and practice as being at opposite ends of a single continuum is to distinguish between the abstract and concrete; analysis and synthesis; compare and contrast; logical and illogical arguments; persuasion and compliance, dissuasion, etc.; and the ability to resolve and ignore cognitive conflict. I reluctantly group only one of the 27 principles in this category since it places more emphasis on practical application: theory is optional, practical application is mandatory. Theory does not exist without practice and practice does not exist without theory.

Socialness

Socialness relates to how one recognizes the impact human relationships have on a personal learning network (PLN).  From a professional standpoint, the ability to recognize the value in connecting with others will depend on the type of engagement: 1) uni vs. bidirectional communication, 2) frequency, and 3) quality. Understanding social networking terms like prestige, centrality, and influence will also provide ways to evaluating the quality of the connections one has.  Based on this personal awareness, one can then make better decisions in paving a way to better educative experiences.  I loosely place the following 17 out of 27 principles in this category:
  1. showing up is just the beginning, 
  2. put yourself in situations where learning is required to survive and thrive,
  3. teach others,
  4. build things,
  5. break things,
  6. make money, 
  7. record everything,
  8. analyze every investment,
  9. efficient is not the same as effective,
  10. explore,
  11. try every medium,
  12. get in arguments,
  13. seek out different ways of doing things,
  14. be careful who you learn from,
  15. connections are EVERYTHING,
  16. find people who think you are crazy,
  17. most education happens outside of the classroom.
To understand any one of the four tenets of this education manifesto - disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness - requires a level of understanding of the other three as they all are causes and effects of each other.  Context will determine which of the four tenets provide the best "entry point" into a necessary nuanced discussion and reflective action pertaining to how these four collectively relate to the educative experience.  A teacher's role is to use this understanding of the four tenets to facilitate effective, efficient, and engaging educative experiences for each learner.  

I have purposefully left this post short, realizing that further explanation of disposition, orientation, cognition, and socialness is necessary; for now, just wanted to present these ideas in hopes that others might offer feedback. 

Does this education manifesto resignate with you?  What's missing? 

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