Friday, 30 May 2008

Pressure, Pressure...

The clouds of the end of semester rush are gathering. I have mountains of marking to do, assessment on tasks which I hope my students will have found meaningful and relevant, but the more I read in my blogging life ,the more unsure I am about what I do. Is the ability to write an analytical essay on a text a really vital life skill? What would these kids have chosen to learn about if they could have run the curriculum? Am I able to make some links about the wider world which for most of them seems only a distant roar they can easily ignore, focussing more on the pressing social concerns of relationships and social calendars for the weekend?
How does a Constructivist classroom work? Where is the curriculum based- on a set of skills that need to be demonstrated by the passage of the class over a semester? How will this fit in our new Learning centre next year and in the basically very traditional school in which I teach? How do we get teachers who are trained to work as effective solo units managing a group of 'learners' to change and the learners themselves to take on the very real responsibility of their own 'learning'?
Can I say at this point that I vacillate between absolute joy and excitement with the possibilities of what can happen in this sort of change and the negativity and doubt as the idea of supported change is such a hard one to have happen in an organisation which has the duality of being a transmitter of values from our past as well as being an institution which provides skills for dealing with a future which for all of us is not yet clear or known?
So here I sit, listening to podcasts about people doing great things, stretching the boundaries and making change happen while I have to write reports mark essays, tick worksheets and embed my comments into the kids folios. At the same time I am planning for going to NECC where I expect to be challenged even more by what is possible.
What is my dilemma? Is it that I am not coping with the pace of change? Is it that I find the demands of my job to have taken so much of my energy and enthusiasm that I should move on to something else? Is it that because I am aware of the possibilities that I find it so hard to deal with the realities of here and now as well of how to get 'there'?
I read, I blog - I try to be positive and see options, but at the moment the messages are coming in thick and fast and seemingly conflicting with each other


Clix said...

Ok, I've heard of constructivism before, and I'm certain others have explained it to me, but I had to look it up, so take ALL this with a grain of salt.

Writing an analytical essay may not be an important life skill, but the process of writing such an essay incorporates practice of important skills, and the final product allows the students to demonstrate how well they have mastered those skills - looking at an event or concept in different ways, deductive reasoning, using evidence to support a decision, putting ideas in a clear and logical order, making a point in a way that is both precise and interesting. And through it all - patience and persistence!

It CAN be done. Maybe not perfectly, maybe not the first time through, but it can be done.

And you can do it! :D

Pamelarvo said...

this is pretty heavy stuff- you're thinking too much, not safe! did you read Catherine Deveny yesterday? - I'll send the article to you, it's quite cheering

Jo McLeay said...

Sue, this is a post full of questions I can relate to so much (as you know) It is so true and so thoughtful. I am glad you wrote it, and I hope it will lead to many equally thoughtful discussions over the next few months, both f2f and in the blogosphere.

Susan said...

Sue, This post captures much of the turmoil I've been in. I know the key is constructivism, but I'm sure struggling with my role in helping my school get there, helping ME get there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.