Philosophy

Can One Be Open and Honest If Ideas Must First Go Through an Editor?



Philosophical Analysis

In the above video, My Reaction to the Kavanaugh Hearings || Mayim Bialik, Mayim lists various points about the Kavanaugh hearings.  One of the main purposes of this channel seems to be for Mayim to express freely her ideas, thoughts, opinions, etc. to the public.  At 1:49, she posts the heading, My editor made me remove Point #2 - with no further explanation (at the time of this writing). The following philosophical analysis relates to what this statement means within this particular linguistic context (#linguistics, #sociolinguistics).

Having an editor remove "point #2" means that the editor must then approve all other points shared in this video as well as any ideas expressed in all prior videos.  Perhaps Mayim has disclosed who this editor is and their relationship, but it is not clear if one simply refers to this one video. It could also mean that Mayim plans to disclose point #2 at a later date, after the need of having an editor is no longer warranted.  I can't help but wonder now how Mayim's (unedited - original) thoughts get the "green light" before being published for public consumption. It's no one's business why she decided not to reveal point #2 or who the editor happens to be, but it does seem to hamper the level of authenticity that exists with those ideas that are being shared. The appeal of having a channel like this is that there is no editor.

Question: Is it better to reveal that one of several ideas was not allowed to be shared or is it better to just not mention it for fear that it might discredit the other ideas that are being shared?  Can one remain open and honest if ideas first must go through an editor?

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 careers 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 acronym DOCS to categorize 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 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 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 principles 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 resonate with you?  What's missing?

Teaching is a calling or not...to a degree

Photo Attribution

Teaching is a calling

Dr. Tom S.C. Farrell asks, Teaching is a Calling: Or is it?  This article was brought to my attention by a Griffin tweet, as part of an #rpsig Twitter discourse.

Farrell concludes that the maxim, teaching is a calling, is too often taken for granted by institutions who try to exploit teacher selfless dedication to their students' learning.  He also states that teacher assumptions can be imposed by others, presumably institutions. Although I can appreciate his efforts for looking out for the interests of educators, I wonder if it's really warranted.

My take

I am always leery of the use of maxims when forming an argument because it's too easy to generalize.  In order to agree with the point of view, one has to accept the maxim.  In this case, many educators may feel compelled to agree with this maxim because most have experienced times when the opposite is true: feeling overworked, underpaid, etc. - teaching which is not a calling but just a job. In other words, it is easy to take a dichotomous look at the teaching profession as either being only a calling or just a job...nothing in between.

If teaching is a calling (or vocation), then there is some force that attracts one to a profession whereby the act of doing the job becomes more important than a salary, the work conditions, the hours, etc.  Calling it a force (Robinson calls it one's element), seems a bit abstract, so let's just say that a person is interested in the job itself to the degree that the positive aspects outweigh the negatives.  Contrast this point of view to a more dichotomous viewpoint that labels teaching as a calling as being all or nothing.

If teaching is a calling is just a subjective (internal) viewpoint of one's job in assessing the positives over the negatives, then it also cannot be an assumption from some outside source (e.g., an institution or school) imposed on someone else (e.g., a teacher).  Of course outside sources can influence how one perceives the positives and negatives of a particular job, but the assumption, given, or maxim that teaching is a calling cannot be passed on to the individual.

Example

Let's assume that ELT Language School is taking advantage of ELT Teacher A because Teacher A simply loves her job so much that other aspects of the job don't matter: making money, long hours, etc.

In this example, what matters is who is doing the assuming?  If Teacher B, her colleague, is doing the assuming, but Teacher A is happy with the job (the positives outweigh the negatives), then what does it matter? As far as Teacher A is concerned, teaching is still a calling.  If Teacher A realizes that ELT Language School is taking advantage of her, then it's likely that the negatives outweigh the positives and Teacher A as a result is not happy with the job.  Teacher A is working for some other reason and not for the joy of it, and teaching then no longer is a calling.  Teacher A is not in her element, as it were.

If Teacher A is not happy with her job, is it's the school's fault?  Certainly there are situations where this might be the case, but I think what is more likely is that Teacher A just has not found her calling.  There are possible reasons for this: she does not recognize her calling, she doesn't know how to find her calling, she doesn't know how to prepare (or train) for her calling, etc. Robinson might help here.

Conclusion

A calling cannot be designed by those who exploit another's selflessness.  Someone who is acting selflessly is not looking for anything in return, which teachers undoubtedly often do when they feel that teaching is a calling.  But teachers who view teaching as a calling also do so in terms of degree, pragmatically accepting the fact that certain positives outweigh certain negatives at any given time - this process is unique to the individual and cannot be assumed by others.  If there comes a time when teachers realize that negatives outweigh the positives, then it is up to them to make the decisions necessary to improve the situation; otherwise, it is there choice to live with current conditions (which in this case teaching no longer becomes a calling). The question here then is less about the profession as a calling and more about whether or not teachers are being taken advantage of.  But I think most educators know when they are being taken advantage of...perhaps what might be more interesting is to explore what options they have to actually do something about it.

Understanding what learning is...is king!

Photo Attribution
I read with confusion, Robinson's Content is no longer king.  Here are five things that are at ELTjam, and felt compelled to counter.  Without having read the post, I realized from the title alone that a well-intentioned metaphor had been butchered - to my knowledge, there is no evidence of any country having had more than one official king.  Also, saying, content is no longer king, gives the impression that this is relatively novel idea, which it is not.  It is not exactly clear who the target audience is, but will assume that it is either learners in formal education (i.e., schools) or those interested in more informal educational contexts (learning outside of schools). Terms like businesses and customer are used in the piece, but learning seems to be the real focus.

Robinson concedes in the introduction that content is at best a "minor royal" (para. 5), and that the following have taken its place: 1) user experience, 2) access, 3) choice, 4) cost, and 5) data. I'll try to unpack each in turn, but struggle with the notion that these (or any) concepts should come before content and if all actually come before content in equal fashion.  Let's explore...

User Experience (UX)

Glossing over such a complex idea as UX is futile.  Robinson says, UX can be learned and applied with ease.  What does this mean?  The user experience can be learned and can be applied with ease?  Let's change to the active voice to see if this makes any more sense: Learners learn the user experience?  Teachers learn the user experience?  Teachers apply the user experience with ease?  As an educator it has never crossed my mind that I could apply a user experience to the user.  By definition, it's the experience of the user, which seems to mean that the user experience is inherently unique, regardless what the educator does.

Access & Choice

I do not really see any argument for access and choice (over content).  Robinson states that the value in Netflix (as a "content access business") is "...in the easy access to so many films, with no caps on usage and a recommendation system to help you navigate the impossible amount of choice".  How do these two points (access and choice) reach king status over content?

Cost

Cost is king over content?  What's the argument Robinson is trying to make?  Charging or not charging for classes is really what matters in how, where, when, etc. individuals learn?  And this is more important that content?

Data

I would compare this definition of big data with that of Robinson's: "sets of data larger, more varied and more complex than we could ever have imagined capturing" (para. 18). How can big data be king over content, when content is at least part of the learning process?  This is like saying assessment (from big data) is more important than learning.  If there is no learning, then there is nothing to measure.  Surely most would agree that content has something to do with learning, and that assessment either occurs concurrently or sequentially to the learning process (but not absent of...).  Of course big data could be used to diagnose or for placement purposes, but this is limited in scope when compared to a more broader use that comes in the form of both formative and summative-types of assessment. The purpose of big data is to assess learning.

Conclusion

Nothing is "king" over content.  Learning is complex.  Learning involves ideas, materials, and social interactions, and none of these three - ideas, materials, and social relationships - are inherently superior over the others.  Learning is the aggregate of ideas, materials, and social relationships that grow and decline over time and are worth understanding at any given point of time.  Just using the word content limits the scope of an idea as it tends to ignore perspective, interpretation, and understandings of each individual (e.g., learner, educator, coach, etc.).  Learning is an ideational, material, and social network that intentionally and incidentally transforms over time.  If businesses want to make money in education, understanding what learning is...is king!

Teachers as doctors...

Due to word count limits in LinkedIn, I am posting my response to Teachers, focus on preventative medicine! in its entirety here...

Thanks David for your followup and welcome to blogging in LinkedIn...was curious about how it would appear and what kind of interaction (if any) would result.  Let me say that your post is certainly not inflammatory (and applaud you for being idealistic) and have come to recognize your style as one of provocation...a good thing. Having had the pleasure of conversing with you in the past, I'm certain we agree more often than not. The only real difference in opinion that I see is what kind of language best provokes a change in another.

What caught my attention of your post were two things: attempting to decipher your own beliefs and (more importantly) envisioning how others might interpret your message.  I'm constantly curious about how language is used and spend a fair amount of time discussing this with teacher trainers.  As I tell my students, my interpretation is only one and should be placed among many others before attempting to understand the "true" message (intent), the person who wrote the message, the target audience, locutionary/illocutionary/perlocutionary forces, etc.

Your point about "playing teacher" could very well be true.  My point is simply to ask, should we generalize this idea as fact or idealistically look at it as a potential problem and make suggestions towards fixing it.  Unless they are conclusions from empirical evidence, I tend to avoid blanket statements about groups of people...but that's just me.  Perhaps in your post on preventative medicine you might clarify what you mean when you say "teachers should prescribe".  For me, prescribing is saying that a group of individuals (e.g., teachers) should do the same thing in different contexts: same teaching techniques, methods, approaches, strategies, etc. - I'll admit that teacher-doctor analogy falls a bit short in this regard.  My point is that we should attempt to expect similar student outcomes regardless as to the technique, method, etc. teachers employ.

Regarding your reply on $$$...I completely agree with you.  My only point is whether or not this message addresses a slightly different target audience than the target audience you sought for the overall post - teachers. This shift in audience seems to cloud the intended message...again, one that I completely agree with.

Always appreciate your point of view and will continue to follow your ideas and perspectives that continue to help further my own understandings.

Academics...what does it mean?

Hashtags: #education #edchat #academics #logic


Let’s put aside for a moment whether or not members understood the definition of academics.  And I certainly don’t fault them for referring to a dictionary when they need to clarify a word in English – I tell my English language learners this all of the time.  Taking a linguistic analysis approach, what follows is my interpretation of the bigger problem(s). 

Hudson begins...
Several years ago when my school district was working to create a new, more actionable mission statement, we hit an unforeseen bump in the road. We were proudly reviewing our sixth draft of the statement (which was 95 percent finished) when we received the feedback from an anonymous community member that our mission made no reference to “academics.”
If anyone has every openly constructed a mission statement, the process is usually quite daunting if those involved are truly able to speak freely.  If they were proud of reviewing their sixth draft of their mission statement, I presume that there was little pushback or dissension in how the mission statement came together at that point. If there had been dissension, then what came next would probably be less unforeseeable.  

The second issue here is that of the anonymous community member sharing opinions.  If management is gathering opinions around such an important piece of text, should input be considered via anonymous sources?  Wouldn't the person's identity play a part in validating an opinion?  Wouldn't the opinion itself also reflect back on the person's identity?  Sure, there are pros and cons here, but I'm leaning more towards making opinions openly and transparent...transparent in the sense that a person's identity and opinions can be linked back to each other.  Regardless, this does not diminish the value of bringing up a suggestion about whether the word academics should be included in the mission statement, asking,

"How can a school district's mission not include any mention of academics?"

Hudson goes on...

It’s fair to say that none of the 40 members of the committee knew the extent of the true definition, because the descriptions we found were surprising:
  • “theoretical or hypothetical; not practical, realistic, or directly useful”
  • “learned or scholarly but lacking in worldliness, common sense, or practicality”
I'll admit, after reading Sadler's followup, I went straight to the dictionary, the same dictionary incidentally referenced by Hudson (dictionary.com).  Hudson illustrates how he perceives none of the 40 members of the committee knowing what the "true" definition of the word is.  I'm less concerned that the writer infers that members do not understand a word in English and more concerned that he feels compelled to share a true definition where four variations of the noun form exist.  I'm also concerned that he feels surprised that there exist a perceived gap between theory and practice, researcher and practitioner, academic and teacher, etc., age-old dichotomies that have been the basis of arguments for many a stakeholder.  

Hudson continues explaining how they reached a decision to leave out the term "academic" (which is different than the word in question, academics) in the mission statement by presenting a final rationale...

As adults looking back, we know that some of our classes and courses were of little or no use, and we may have felt at times that we were simply jumping through hoops. It becomes critical that our mission and district practices avoid these pitfalls of traditional “academics” because, by definition, such practices will be the cause of boredom for all but a few students who are interested in those areas.

So, a mission statement should avoid the "pitfalls of traditional academics because, by definition, such practices will be the cause of boredom for all but a few students who are interested in those areas".

I'll delineate the absurdity of this line of thinking as follows:

  1. The quality of classes adults took in the past is irrelevant. The mission statement (and respective vision statement, values, objectives, etc.) is more about the present and future of a school, organization, etc.
  2. Let's say that academics means the scholarly activities of a school or university, as classroom studies or research projects, which originates from Hudson's "true" definition.  Hudson says the ...pitfalls of traditional academics...by definition... as if the term academics is being defined as what their committee members defined the term as, which was not based on the "true or dictionary definition: not practical, lacking common sense, etc.   Bottom line: Hudson demonstrates that the committee does not understand the definition of academics yet feels it's necessary to use this definition as a basis for excluding the term from the mission statement, comparing it to the term traditional academics.  Absurd...not because they don't use the term in the mission statement; not because committee members don't know the meaning of a word; but because the rationale for excluding the word was based on a perceived (based on the argument here, mis-) understanding of a word and not on the ("true") dictionary definition or simply mistakenly comparing the term academics with the term traditional academics.  Absurd, because the point was made that committee members didn't understand the meaning of the word, yet used that meaning - which was "wrong" - to make an important decision (like creating a mission statement).
  3. Placing the adjective traditional before the word academics just adds to the confusion, to expand on what I already mentioned above.  Are they referring to a definition of academics or traditional academics?  It's as if decision makers can't help but force their own meaning onto a word for their own purposes. The argument is not whether or not to use the term traditional academics in the mission statement, but rather the term academics. 
The issue here is how one's background with a word (i.e., academics) can lead to such an illogical argument (claiming that a definition is wrong then making decisions based on that wrong definition).  I have to believe that an appropriate mission statement can include the word academics in such a way that is forward thinking, progressive, etc.  But even if this turns out to be an impossible endeavor, the rationale not to include the word is not because the word refers to the theoretical, hypothetical, not practical, lacking in worldliness, common sense, or practicality.  One may associate the word academics with these negatives, but it's not the same as it's definition. Finally, this post was originally published at Dreambox Learning on January 29, 2015, then again on Getting Smart on February 11, 2015. I have to question the logic in doing this as well.




Is the tone of the assessment conversation what really matters? (#edchat)

Hashtags: #edchat, #eltchat, #education, #teaching, #learning
Photo attribution

Just read Kilburn’s Predictions for K-12 Education in 2015, and his point about the tone of the assessment changing for the better left me perplexed.

One thing is the “tone of the conversation”, or narrative, and another is the reality of two often diametrically opposing world views about K-12 education put into practice. Has the narrative changed all that much to think that some narrative equates to some concrete change for 2015? And who exactly are those participating in this narrative: teachers, administrators, public leaders, politicians, etc.?

I doubt really that many more teachers are talking about the benefits of formative assessment over summative assessment, which has been discussed at length for some time now in the literature - any decent educational program will reveal this.  And perhaps we might lump administrators into this same group as well.  If teachers and administrators are opening up classroom experiences in ways that make the implementation of formative assessments more transparent, and if this is what is meant by a change in the “tone of conversation”, then Godspeed. This is a good thing, but is it really enough?

Or, has a change in narrative by consensus that occurred in 2014 occurred beyond the level of teacher and administrator? Teachers and administrators within the school can be as transparent as they want, but if this level of transparency does not extend to educational stakeholders outside the school system (i.e., civic leaders, politicians, etc.), what good is it?  We still live in times of standardized testing when it comes to teaching and learning in K-12, so I ask, “Who reached this consensus in 2014?” If this consensus went beyond teacher and administrator, I would love to see some evidence of this.  Kilburn also states,
…during 2014 we have seen a growing consensus on the need for better, fewer assessments that provide timely insights into the teaching and learning cycle (para. 7).
So, moving on from consensus, I will assume that “better" assessments means more formative assessment and less summative assessment?  And I was left scratching my head when I read about the idea of fewer assessments, to the degree that I wonder if he means better (formative and/or summative) assessment and fewer (formative) assessment?  For instance, since formative assessment is ongoing, informal, and an alternative to more traditional approaches to student evaluations, it’s hard to quantify it: checking homework, informal classroom decisions, etc. are examples of formative assessment that I doubt many would suggest we count doing, let alone think we should do less of.  So let’s assume that “fewer” assessments means doing fewer summative assessments.

Doing fewer summative assessments can occur internally or externally, which will depend greatly on who has taken part in the consensus building that occurred in 2014.  Since Common Core is still a reality, can we say that external summative assessments have not changed all that much in 2014?  Sure, there are those who oppose them, but is the opposition all that much greater than what we typically see when any standardized program is being implemented at the national level?  And since there is a big difference between talking about doing fewer assessments and actually doing fewer assessments, perhaps whomever is saying that we should do fewer external, summative assessments isn’t really an indicator that in 2015 that we can expect some meaningful change of the actual number of external, summative assessments that are being applied. Yet, Kilburn remains the optimist as he predicts,
I believe that in 2015—fueled by the ways that technology can make assessment data a powerful tool for personalizing learning—we will see a more positive and productive conversation about how assessment data can be used to provide more timely, useful feedback for teachers and students.  
So I ask,
  1. Which educational stakeholders will make this realization in 2015 that technology affords better assessment data for personalized learning?
  2. Are we talking about formative assessment, summative assessment, or both?
  3. Are we talking about personalized learning or differentiated instruction, since there is much more literature on and I would say more useful to discuss the latter.
  4. How will technology (through learning analytics) conjoin formative and summative assessments, both internal and external, using both qualitative and quantitative data in such a way that best benefits each learner?
  5. How will learning analytics be shared among all educational stakeholders and for what specific purposes?
The narrative I would like to see among all educational stakeholders would include seeking answers to the various questions that I pose.  The tone of a conversation is only as good as an end result.  Reaching a consensus is an outcome of putting into practice an idea that came from first having a change in narrative.  I want more for 2015…I want more than a change of tone of the assessment conversation, but a more specific yet contextual and open narrative of the differences in assessment and concrete plans that reveal timely and purposeful learning analytics to better transform each learner into more productive, global citizen.

(Language) Learning is Mainly About Engagement.

A recent response about my current feelings about (language) learning and purposeful engagement...

Let me start by saying that I have not seen Lingua.ly in action, and am only commenting on the post made in EDUKWEST.

I guess that I am a little surprised to see that the three key trends seen by EDUKWEST are personalized, effective, and efficient learning. I get effective and efficient learning, but it seems that personalized learning is practically inherent in any open, online experience. One trend that I am surprised not to hear much about is engagement.

The main problem that Lingua.ly addresses is the difficulty in using authentic content based on research that supports the notion that learning must be organized in order for it to be efficient (and I don't doubt that such research exists). But is systematic learning through authentic and purposeful engagement realistic?

If language learners want systematic language learning experiences they can go to school for that. Perhaps more startups should focus on the authentic (and purposeful) engagement piece more and the value of learning an additional language much in the same way one learns the mother tongue. If they get the engagement right, the effectiveness, efficiencies, and personalization (which have more to do with the individual learner) will fall into place.

Looking at learning in general, the trends favor engagement (how we communicate with each other and for what reasons) over effectiveness, efficiencies, and personalization. I would argue that language learning is no different.


Five myths when learning an additional language

There are seven days in a week, and someday is not one of them...

http://youtu.be/0x2_kWRB8-A

Five barriers people feel they face (myths) when learning an additional language...

  1. No language gene or talent

  2. Too old to learn a second language

  3. Can't travel to the country right now

  4. Bad memory for all that vocabulary

  5. Frustrate native speakers

Five myths when learning an additional language

There are seven days in a week, and someday is not one of them...

http://youtu.be/0x2_kWRB8-A

Five barriers people feel they face (myths) when learning an additional language...

  1. No language gene or talent

  2. Too old to learn a second language

  3. Can't travel to the country right now

  4. Bad memory for all that vocabulary

  5. Frustrate native speakers

Educational Philosophies of English Language Educators


Today in Applied Linguistics class, we will create an educational philosophy.  An educational philosophy is a "living credo" about who you currently are as a (language) educator.  An educational philosophy develops over time just as you develop as a teaching practitioner; thus, keeping it up-to-date is vital.  Reflecting on your educational philosophy over time also serves as a reminder of where you've been, where you are today, and where you would like to be in the future.  Maintaining an educational philosophy is an intregal part of one's ongoing professional learning trajectory.
Some suggestions when writing an educational philosophy can be viewed by reflecting on the following questions:
  • Why do you teach?
  • Whom do you teach?
  • How and what you teach?
  • Where you teach?
When applying for a teaching job, it's likely that the school or institution doing the hiring will ask about your educational philosophy in one form or another.  It's always a good idea to not only keep your educational philosophy current, but also be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly.  Try practice saying your educational philosophy in all of the languages you are able to speak, or likely have to speak when doing an interview.
Here is my example of my current educational philosophy...
His educational philosophy is to facilitate learners in becoming more apt to form valid, reliable, and unbiased arguments, provide innovative solutions to real-life problems, make decisions that resolve cognitive conflict by developing understandings through a difference of opinion or perspective, and create innovative ways of communicating with others. His role is to move learners from being dependent, to independent, to interdependent individuals who are not afraid to take chances, share their successes and failures with others, and are concerned for the well-being of not only themselves, but for others as well. Benjamin's goal is to help others become more daring, sharing, and caring individuals.
Share your educational philosophy by replying to this post!
 
Photo attribution

Educational Philosophies of English Language Educators


Today in Applied Linguistics class, we will create an educational philosophy.  An educational philosophy is a "living credo" about who you currently are as a (language) educator.  An educational philosophy develops over time just as you develop as a teaching practitioner; thus, keeping it up-to-date is vital.  Reflecting on your educational philosophy over time also serves as a reminder of where you've been, where you are today, and where you would like to be in the future.  Maintaining an educational philosophy is an intregal part of one's ongoing professional learning trajectory.
Some suggestions when writing an educational philosophy can be viewed by reflecting on the following questions:
  • Why do you teach?
  • Whom do you teach?
  • How and what you teach?
  • Where you teach?
When applying for a teaching job, it's likely that the school or institution doing the hiring will ask about your educational philosophy in one form or another.  It's always a good idea to not only keep your educational philosophy current, but also be able to articulate it clearly and succinctly.  Try practice saying your educational philosophy in all of the languages you are able to speak, or likely have to speak when doing an interview.
Here is my example of my current educational philosophy...
His educational philosophy is to facilitate learners in becoming more apt to form valid, reliable, and unbiased arguments, provide innovative solutions to real-life problems, make decisions that resolve cognitive conflict by developing understandings through a difference of opinion or perspective, and create innovative ways of communicating with others. His role is to move learners from being dependent, to independent, to interdependent individuals who are not afraid to take chances, share their successes and failures with others, and are concerned for the well-being of not only themselves, but for others as well. Benjamin's goal is to help others become more daring, sharing, and caring individuals.
Share your educational philosophy by replying to this post!
 
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Is the issue really about control, #MOOCs, and platforms?

After reading Keeping Higher Education in Control of Higher Education, I immediately thought of a phrase commonly used in Mexico: ¿y que?

I certainly appreciate Winkler's (2013) take on the issue of control, but I'd like to try to unpack her perspective in order to offer an alternative point of view.

The article seems to pose the problem being about control. Who has control of content that is being delivered (presumably to the public) online?  The universities? Or the third-party platform providers (i.e., for-profit businesses)?  The argument seems to be in favor of the universities with the Miles Coverdale quote at the beginning of the piece, yet seems to switch to platform providers by the end of the article: "...a withdrawal of courses [from a platform provider] created by the top universities...could be fatal".  So, who should have control?

Another thing that muddies up the argument is the use of the term MOOC.  Just as an experiment, read the article again but this time when MOOC is used as an adjective ("MOOC backlash"), remove it entirely.  And when MOOC is used as a noun ("...if MOOCs had started...") simply use either "open course" or just "course".  When I did this, I quickly realized that the main point was between technology, material objects, platforms, etc. and educational institutions, academia, scholars, and in-house public relations.

Now, the first sentence of the article suggests that universities do not need platforms.  But as I reflect back on my experiences as an educator and learner, I don't recall ever seeing a university that offered a distance course that did not use a third-party platform: Angel, Blackboard, Moodle, Canvas, etc.  Granted, these days we can include Coursera, Udemy, etc., but the difference here has more to do with degree of openness than it does about control over course content (universities or platform providers).  Not using a third-party platform would be like using a specific in-house LMS especially designed for the institution.  I'm not saying that they don't exist, but I've never seen or used them.

Instead of using the term MOOC platform, let's refer to them as business platforms (BPs) in order to distinguish something like Coursera, Udemy, even YouTube from Moodle or Canvas, for instance.  I would assume (and Winkler would know better than I), that Coursera has some sort of business plan or model from which to work with while Moodle, at the opposite side of the spectrum is simply an open source LMS.  When a university decides to offer a distance course, the platform they decide to use should align to the institutional policy that mandates who owns course content.  In some cases the institution owns the content, other times the educator owns the content. Whatever the policy, the BPs or open source platforms like Moodle must align with institutional policy, most likely by both parties signing a binding contract.

I don't think the problem is about control at all.  I think it's how institutions find value in the way they choose to deliver distance courses.  Which platform or combination of platforms adds the most value, both from an economic standpoint and an educational standpoint?  If institutions find ways to deliver distance courses in a way that adds both economic and educational value to the learner, who's going to argue against replacing faculty (besides the ones getting fired)?  I would rather avoid hyperboles like "...replacing faculty with cheap online education", and instead discuss how platforms become a natural extension of the entire institutional infrastructure that adheres to the mission, vision, values, and goals of the school.

The phrase ...y que... in Spanish means, So what? Winker's piece allows for a serious discussion that needs to be addressed with regard to institutions, platforms, etc., but I ask, So what if educators are not realizing the need to hone knowledge and skill sets in order to be more competitive?  So what if universities use Udemy as their platform for delivering distance courses?  So what if institutions use YouTube?  So what if BPs take over ownership of content due to poor planning on the part of the university (and I'm not saying that this is happening, although it could)?  My attempt here was to try to unpack these "So what?" questions by following them up with a simple (yet complex) notion that institutions, educators, and platform providers will co-exist if each takes a critical and honest look at how to plan and compromise for the betterment of higher student achievement.


It's all about SCHOOL!

After so many discussions attempting to define what a MOOC is or isn't, I felt compelled to come up with a term that encompasses all learning environments: SCHOOL.  I never really accepted MOOC, xMOOC, cMOOC, SOLE, etc. as meaningful terms to relate to something so complex as learning.  And perhaps SCHOOL doesn't get there either.  But I do think the acronym provides a more accurate way of framing an educative experience by describing what it ought to look like.  Until I find a better term (i.e., acronym), SCHOOL it is.  

SCHOOL


Sustainable: I debated over scalable and sustainable and decided on the latter.  Although both are not mutually exclusive, what's more important is that the learning which grows from the educative experience (e.g., course) continues over time to the degree that it enables the individual to continually do more over time.  Just because an experience is scalable (a network property) doesn't necessarily make it more or less sustainable or educative (an individual attribute).  

Cooperative: Cooperation won over collaboration (The difference).  Learning should be like building an airplane.  Learning is a connective diversity of strengths among individuals: who's best at making the airplane seats, motor, electronics, food service, etc.?  Learning is an opportunity to harness the strengths of each individual via co-operation.

Hybrid: A hybrid or blending learning refers to the appropriate mix of materials, personal interactions, and ideas (concepts) that each individual is drawn to that leads to the most relevant and meaningful educative experience possible. Hybrid also speaks to the uniqueness of material (technical and non-technical) and non-material nodes (human relationships and ideational nodes) that make up one's personal learning network (PLN). Finally, a hybrid includes emergent feedback loops that underpin how individuals adapt and adopt to new learning frames.

Openness: Openness, in a practical sense is a matter of degree; in an ideal sense it's typically seen as being all or nothing.  Probably the easiest way to view openness at this time is to classify it in terms of a Creative Commons license or being in the public domain.  Openness refers to not only the content used as part of curriculum, assessment, and instruction, but also products and processes that learners themselves create.  The openness of the entire learning process exhibits degrees of transparency.

Online: The SCHOOL experience is based on online delivery.  Access to the web and mobile technologies affords all educational stakeholders to associate learning as being connected.  In order to be connected, access to the Internet offers more effective, efficient, and engaging ways to communicate when compared to those learning experiences with limited-to-no access to the Internet.  When learners (an all other educational stakeholders) do not have access to the Internet, the learning experience simply falls short. 

Learning:  It's the learning that matters.  Educational stakeholders need to rally around curriculum (i.e., desired results for the individual), assessment (formative and summative), and instruction (differentiation, "flipped" instruction, Socratic method, etc.) so to conjoin all resources towards higher levels of student achievement. 

So, no MOOCs, cMOOCs, xMOOCs, MOLEs, SOLEs, etc., and nothing about accreditation standards, nor accountability - instead, a desire to change the narrative to one that views contextually-based learning experiences (course, mentoring program, teacher training, etc.) as degrees of SCHOOL.  By establishing a single term and relating it to local educational situations, educational stakeholders can begin discussing more important aspects of education in terms of the interdependencies that exist between sustainability, cooperation, hybrid PLNs, openness, online connectivity, and learning (i.e., improved student achievement).   



Best Practitioners

 Educational reform begins by addressing "best practitioners" - teachers and students alike.

The point in putting best practitioners in quotes is to indicate the importance of leading change by focusing more on the educators themselves than on a certain set of practices.  If we focus on educators and working collectively in determining their success, I think we'll find that it is not about establishing specific attributes across the profession but rather allowing each educator to reflect and share what attributes they feel they have that fosters their own success.  By sharing these opinions and experiences openly, I believe we will begin to see patterns that I believe have a lot to do with pedagogical content knowledge, willingness to lead, willingness to take risks, and willingness to "fail forward".  In other words, it's less about some set of inherent attributes an educator has, and more about what the educator is willing to do.

How to address a question like, "Are schools outdated?"

I read another great post from Harmer entitled, Is technology killing school?  Harmer poses the following questions:
Is technology starting to drive learning (cf what Pearson are doing – that was at the top of this blogpost), or is learning directing technological development?

Is ‘school’ outdated? or perhaps, what is the role of school in our modern world?

How much self-organised learning can (and indeed should) children be asked to do, and how confident are you of its success?

How on earth can we evaluate the glowing evangelism of a TED talk?

Technology affords learners to gain understandings, skills, and appropriate dispositions more effectively, efficiently, and engagingly.  This is not necessarily the same as technology driving learning, not necessarily the same as learning driving tech. development.  The two are actually an emergent relationship among a single dynamic system.  Thus, technology feeds potentiality…the potential for learners to connect ideas, materials, and personal relationships into something relevant and meaningful.  To understand the use of materials or objects such as technology is to understand it in relationship to the connection of ideas and personal relationships that make up an overall (material-semiotic) assemblage.

Understanding material-semiotic assemblages enables one to better address questions like “Are schools outdated?”  and “How useful are SOLEs?”  When one questions whether schools are outdated or not, much will depend on how ideas, materials, and personal relationships (both within schools and among schools) connect in an overall network.  Same goes when asking whether SOLEs are beneficial or not.

Answering the essential questions about the potentiality of technology, schools, and SOLEs will depend on how we avoid the trap of assuming an understanding of any single facet of a material-semiotic assemblage (i.e., ideas, materials, social relationships) while ignoring or placing less emphasis on any of the other two.

My answer to the first three questions is to begin by assuming that “schools” is really a material-semiotic assemblage of ideas, materials, and social relationships that all must come together (or connect) in ways that allow for educative experiences to emerge – thinking Dewey here.  The ideas, materials, and social relationships are networked not only within the school but extend outside the school as well.  The emergent networks underpins all educative experiences that learners experience, which leads to a slightly question: How can we improve a school given a particular material-semiotic assemblage?  Indeed, the answer will be rooted in context.  So, my “answer” is really not an answer but an approach to an answer…how’s that for an answer. :)

As far as evaluating a TED talk, I would also approach it a bit differently.  How can ideas stated from a TED talk (theory) become relevant and meaningful to the practical aspects of a local context?  My approach to the answer would be to begin connecting these ideas to a certain set of materials and social relationships that relate to a local context.  If this is done long enough, then holistic patterns may begin to emerge that then will allow educational stakeholders the luxury of assessing whether or not the ideas from a TED Talk where useful.