Thinking about Thinkers

This week, laid a little low by the processing of loss and grief, I’ve been glad to distract myself with the #tdbooks Reading Group – our first attempt as a Community of Praxis to focus on a single author; in this case the magnificent bell hooks.

bell is like Marmite – love her or hate her, her powerfully expressed polemic stops you in your tracks.  I’ve learned some profound truths about myself and my pedagogy this week.  You may think this geeky, but I wake up looking forward to the late-night comments that I’ve heard tinkle onto the blog during the night.  I go for a run first, prolonging the anticipation until I can sit with coffee, yoghurt and fruit, on my doorstep in the sunshine, and read.Summers' End 045

I love this way of working.  Unpaid summer leave removes the downsides of working for an organisation and provides space, time and ease for thinking.  I have learned via the Community of Praxis that I think better when I don’t think alone.  (Ooh, there was another tinkly WordPress message, now that’s immediate and exciting :-))

I’m aware, however, that there are only a few of us contributing – a glorious few, for certain, a thoughtful, bright and creative few.  So what’s occupying me now is, how do I communicate why doing stuff like that is good for the brain, soul and classroom?

Earlier in the week, I tweeted:

Aims of #tdbooks for me? 1. Take me deeper into pedagogical reflexion and 2. Inspire new ideas to increase learning impact #result

…but there are some underlying ‘whys’, I realise.  Why do I want to go deeper into pedagogical reflexion?  What would be the benefit of that?  It’s not good enough to say, reflexion’s in the model.  And there are some who might already think I’m in danger of disappearing up my own backside.  But those powerful truths I’ve learned this week include a perspective I would have never seen, without the stimulus of the #tdbooks discussion – the perspective of a student who arrived in a learning environment where the language and culture was already established and who, for a short time at least, felt excluded by that.  I could not have seen that for myself.  It’s right that I address diverse perspectives (and if I teach to my values I am mindful of what is right).  I can do something about it now.

And what am I assuming, that makes me want to increase learning impact?  By the measures on which I’m judged organisationally, my students are doing well.  Is it ADHD tendencies which make it impossible for me to rest on these laurels, as a manager and teacher?  Is it that the world of education is changing and we need to keep up?  I don’t think so, though I need to be sure.  Changing my practice needs to be for better reason than stopping me being bored.  The world of education is changing and we need more than knee-jerk reaction to respond to this.  Again, the social purpose model reassures me, in a funny sort of way.  As long as the world is unfair and unreasonable (some reassurance), education is not working as well as it could.  We need to #teachdifferent and teach better.

I hope you will join us in sharing what you’ve learned about your pedagogy, through reading bell hooks, or what people say about her.  If you read our comments, you’ll see that we are not always certain, not always fully formed in our thinking, hesitant, passionate, unconfident, opinionated – all the things that you might be too.  It would be lovely, to read what you think.


Author: TeachNorthern

We are hard working educators with passionate interest in Teaching for a Social Purpose. Everything we've learned is through observing colleagues and students, all of whom are committed to changing the world. And reading interesting stuff. We work at The Northern College in Barnsley and its mission (and thirty-eight year history) of social transformation makes it an ideal base to face the challenges of teaching adults in 21st century England.

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