Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Learning with Passion, and a Social Justice View


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 36 seconds

I just listened to an awesome TTT hangout and read two great articles, and have some ideas i wanna implementing my class and needed to document them.

Student passion
My students design educational games. I want them to design games about causes they care about that would also benefit others. Last semester their audience was AUC students like themselves. This coming year my co-teacher and I plan to take them out to a community in Egypt where they might design things for younger kids or adult women. It will be harder to empathize with the needs of people of a different social class…but I also want my students to pursue their passions.

I got an idea from the TTT hangout re: Focusing students on their passions and how they can bring them to the class. As they design edu games, i should probe them (maybe as reflective blogging or an in class activity or both) on 10 things they are passionate about, 10 things good at, 10 things they wanna learn. Since they will design stuff forr others, they also need to reflect on what they know are passions of THOSE learners and also what they may NEED or WANT to learn about. Then find a sweet spot of an area of intersection between a common passion for a team of students in my class that could meet a learning need of their audience. Sounds difficult but could be a really empowering and transformative process to go through. It also provides a good way of thinking how to focus their group work together by allowing people to highlight their strengths and learn new things they are interested to learn. I have no illusions of neatness and I know I will need to push students to think beyond what traditionally is seen as learning – but I hope to model this well enough in my class that they can go and do something in a similar vein with the community they visit. Maybe people will want to learn to play the guitar…or cook…or understand quantum theory… Who knows!

On cMOOCing for Teachers
Back in the day before i experienced cMOOCs, i wrote an article arguing that teachers would benefit from dipping into MOOCs. I think the benefits of CMOOCing are even stronger. Most importantly I wanna write an article about how cMOOCing allows/helps educators continue to be learners and how important this is for prof dev- this idea is from something my good friend Mia Zamora said in the hangout.

Writing and Other Forms of Expression
Slightly related but separate, I rememberedan article by George Couros (sorry this doesn’t link to the particular article) in which he says sthg obvious that we as educators ignore: we are often assessing how well students can WRITE what they know, rather than what they truly know. #clmooc and the people in it have always helped stretch my ideas of what I could do in class (another benefit of cMOOCing). So I need to think of how I can provide alternative avenues for self-expression and even social expression, even though writing is essential as part of my course because it’s a freshman core curriculum course meant to prepare students with communication skills (writing, speaking) for upcoming university courses.

Social Justice in Pedagogy
Ok now two other articles i read this morning struck me as doing something special: they take a new and important angle (a critical, social justice angle) on arguments for good pedagogy. This is a big deal. Kate Bowles shows why lecturing is not only bad pedagogy but also a social injustice! It is a compelling argument for how and when to blend and why some YouTube videos have so much success with esp younger people. Cathy Davidson shows how student-centered approaches to learning are ways of modeling our own social justice stance in the world via our classrooms which we can control even though we cannot solve every problem in the world. This is a huge perspective shift and one I will use in my workshops and teaching in future. As in, make it explicit to others why I do what I do and how to be mindful of the social justice angle on things we do in class. I also hope to remind my students to do so when they design games.


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