Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Scaffolding teacher's collaborative and personal research on teaching and learning

This post is inspired by the online article by Marc Prensky Adopt and Adapt: Shaping Tech for the Classroom which I found on a website created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation.

Today there certainly is a strong move towards technology in Luxembourg for instance, where I live and work. But putting computers into classrooms isn't enough. I know that this has been said again and again, but in my view we shouldn't stop saying it to soon.

I have noticed during my years as a teacher and now as an educational consultant, that teachers are most reluctant to give up their assumed role as the one who is in control of the learning process. There are many reasons to this reluctance. One is certainly that they feel being forced to teach to the textbooks or to the tests, which most of the time reproduce what is found in the textbooks.

And even if teachers know or suspect, that this is not the best way to teach anything that students will retain much longer than is needed to pass the tests, they will continue to teach that way as long as the majority of the teachers does. Why? Because when you fail (meaning that your students have bad test results for instance) it is easier to cope with criticism when you did what the "systems expected" you to do, than if you tried to explore new teaching territories without being sure of the outcomes.

Another reason why we haven't noticed a big difference in education, despite the introduction of new technologies, is that teachers have only vague theories about learning. If so, teachers may well think that computers will help innovate or differentiate their teaching, but their vision will be one of doing "old things in new ways" as said in the article. I am convinced,because I have experienced it many times, that teachers will reproduce the same classroom experiences as before technology entered thei school as long as they are not involved - as reflective practitioner - into a collaborative and personal investigation on how learning works, with or without computers, and what it means to the learner and teacher.

And I doubt that technocrats and technology fans or freaks who do a lot to bring or force technology into schools (sometimes for the right and sometimes for the wrong reasons) are rarely the best partners when it comes up to clarify the big questions on education and to scaffolding teacher's or student teacher's inquiries on learning and teaching.


  1. Bonjour,
    Il est vrai que les enseignants ne se sentent pas à l'aise en utilisant les médias comme l'ordinateur en classe, parce qu'ils ne savent comment le faire. Jusqu'à présent, ils étaient habitués à faire passer le savoir à travers les livres et ont donc du mal à appliquer une autre méthode. Afin de changer cette mentalité, il faudrait leur donner la possibilité d'apprendre à utiliser les médias au sein de la classe. Ceci nous mène à notre question afin de savoir s'il y aurait la possibilité de suivre une formation à ce sujet?

  2. Using ICT in your classroom is a vast subjects and different teachers have a lot of different questions on the matter. Some don't know how to use the computer, some can't cope with situations where children are engaged in multiple activities, and other don't know how to find the time to use the computer, when their main objective is to "get to the end of the textbook". So if you want to take a course on how to use the computer in your classroom, it would be a good thing idea to analyse your situation first. Where do I stand. What should be the focus of the training?


Some Reading Milestones

  • Towards reflexive method in archaeology : the example at Çatalhöyük (edited by Ian Hodder) 2000

  • The Book of Learning and Forgetting (Frank Smith) 1998

  • Points of Viewing Children's Thinking: A Digital Ethnographer's Journey (Ricki Goldman-Segall) 1997

  • Verstehen lehren (Martin Wagenschein) 1997

  • Computer im Schreibatelier (Gérard Gretsch) 1992

  • The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter. Uses of Storytelling in the Classroom (Vivian Gussin Paley) 1991

  • La cause des adolescents (Françoise Dolto) 1988

  • Scuola di Barbiana. Die Schülerschule. Brief an eine Lehrerin. (Edition of 1980) / read in German 1982
    Letter to Teacher by the Schoolboys of Barbiana (1970)
    Lettre à une maîtresse de'école, par les enfants de Barbiana (1968)
    Lettera à una professoressa (Original Edition) 1967

  • Vers une pédagogie institutionnelle (Aïda Vasquez, Fernand Oury) 1967

Documentary Films on Education

  • Eine Schule, die gelingt (by Reinhard Kahl) 2008

  • Les temps des enfants (Jacques Duez) 2007

  • Klassenleben (by Bernd Friedmann und Hubertus Siegert) 2006

  • Lernen - Die Entdeckung des Selbstverständlichen
    (Ein Vortrag von Manfred Spitzer) 2006

  • Die Entdeckung der frühen Jahre
    Die Initiative "McKinsey bildet" zur frühkindlichen Bildung (by Reinhard Kahl) 2006

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft - Wie in Deutschland Schulen gelingen (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Treibhäuser der Zukunft / Incubators of the future / Les serres de l'avenir; International Edition (by Reinhard Kahl) 2004

  • Journal de classe, 1ères audaces (1), Les échappés (2), Sexe, amour et vidéo (3), L'enfant nomade (4), Remue-méninges (5) (by Wilbur Leguebe, Jacques Duez, Agnès Lejeune) 2004

  • Spitze - Schulen am Wendekreis der Pädagogik (by Reinhard Kahl) 2003

  • Journal de classe, (by Wilbur Leguebe and Agnès Lejeune; Jacques Duez) 2002

  • Etre et Avoir (by Nicolas Philibert) 2002

  • The Stolen Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2002

  • The Angry Eye (by Jane Elliott) 2001

  • A l'école de la providence (by Gérard Preszow) 2000

  • Blue-Eyed (by Jane Elliott) 1996

  • A Class Divided (by Jane Elliott) 1984

  • Eye of The Storm (with Jane Elliott) 1970

Past quotes of the day

For every problem, there is one solution which is simple, neat and wrong. Henry Louis Mencken

Traveler, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.
Antonio Machado

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. Immanuel Kant

The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them. Albert Einstein

To paraphrase a famous quotation, all that is necessary for the triumph of damaging educational policies is that good educators keep silent. Alfie Kohn

We used to have lots of questions to which there were no answers. Now, with the computer, there are lots of answers to which we haven't thought up the questions. Peter Ustinov

I had a terrible education. I attended a school for emotionally disturbed teachers. Woody Allen

A professor is someone who talks in someone else's sleep. W. H. Auden

When I was an inspector of schools I visited one classroom and looked at a boys book. He'd written, 'Yesterday, Yesterday, Yesterday, Sorrow, Sorrow, Sorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Love, Love, Love.' I said, 'That's a lovely poem.' He said, 'Those are my spelling corrections.' Gervase Phinn

Real thinking never starts until the learner fails. Roger Schank

If what is wanted is a reexamination of schooling in terms of purpose, structure and process, then testing programmes are the wrong vehicle (...) Caroline V. Gipps

Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Albert Einstein

Act always so as to increase the number of choices. Heinz von Foerster

Another way of avoiding teaching is by relying exclusively on a textbook, workbooks, and other commercially packaged learning materials. Teaching is reduced to administering a set curriculum without giving any thought to the substance of what the students area learning or to their particular needs. H. Kohl

The right to ignore anything that doesn't make sense is a crucial element of any child's learning - and the first right children are likely to lose when they get to the controlled learning environment of school. F. Smith

Learning is the human activity which least needs manipulation by others. Most learning is not the result of instruction. It is rather the result of unhampered participation in a meaningful activity. - Ivan Illich

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. - Roger Lewin

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. - Mark Twain