Jumping in the Water

I don’t think I am a beginner in online learning or pedagogy online or otherwise, but when I look at the questions in the questionnaire I am reminded of how little I know. Or at least how much more I need to know.

Part of me wants to fall back on the most simplistic quotes and metaphors I have for schooling and teaching/learning.

While design/sequence/assessment are portions of the pie, I am more likely to just say things like, “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves,” or something that in many ways contradicts some or the more carefully planned strategies we typically utilize in academic settings. I suppose I see the role of the instructor as one of an “armed voyeur.” You watch and see where you can leverage the actions others are already moving with. That is kinda like Aikido too. Use the movement of others to control them….

I guess you can see that my point total on the survey was pretty low. Like 9. And that is funny because I think that many of my students, like my wife and kids, would say I am a control freak. And I am.

My dad would always tell me that I would get all the rope I needed to hang myself and that when that happened, it would be clear that I could only blame myself. I think that runs through my teaching strategies as well. I can create a space that has the needed resources ( including humans) to learn things in, but once there, it is up to the student to find the path and make the mistakes and have successes.

You can take a horse to water...

“You can lead a horse to water,” and all that is pretty evident in how I think about schooling. That does not mean that you can’t, as the rancher or teacher, create situations that might assist the drinking. Like horses that have recently been running a lot are perhaps more likely to drink that those that are already well-hydrated. That is a middle school strategy… Laughing.

I see classrooms as tools, and teachers as tools, and all the stuff inside and out as tools and opportunities to be used intelligently in any learning situations. One of my pet peeves with online structures and email is that we seem to have sort of skipped the amazingness of the telephone in favor of email. I get that the tool called the telephone can he difficult when a student (or teacher in my case) calls at 8:12 in the evening, but you know, I can choose to answer or not and it is that choice that makes the tool really powerful. Not to mention that I can often answer the question in less than a minute whereas email would take hours of “space time” where nothing happens. The emails just sit there in inboxes, waiting…..

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6 Responses to Jumping in the Water

  1. Jim Julius says:

    I resonate with your “control freak but not in the way you think of a control freak” approach to teaching. For me, this is about devoted attention to the design of the environment and activities so that in the moment, it is all about the students, not the teacher.

    I think you could go even further with the “lead a horse to water” metaphor … For example, some may lead their horses to the edge of the ocean. Vast, pretty perhaps, but not good for drinking. Some may lead their horses to a crystal clear stream, but there is a cliff or fence in the way. Some may lead their horses to a little tiny nice neat bowl of water, or maybe it is kool-aid. And what does the path look like? And how are the horses enticed along that path?

    • Todd Conaway says:

      I liked the “armed voyeur” line…

      Know when to step in and know when to let them go. And I think there is the fuzzy world of leadership in this too. Role modeling the drinking, doing the stuff first, or at least sharing stories that encourage and inspire others to take the leap helps.

      I agree with all things horses and water; teachers are more like choreographers than they are like books.

      • Jo Moore says:

        Such eloquence. I am going to have to step up my game. Teachers are more like scuba divers than they are like keyboards. So how about that? Not great but I am liking the practice of repartee online. Have not communicated any real thoughts in this format. Oh yeah, I also want to know how to download photos, as pretty as your horses, to my blogs. However, even as I ask I think you would probably just suggest I use Youtube as my tutorial on the subject. I think I will take my own suggestion to heart and give it a try.

        • Todd Conaway says:

          Ha, scuba divers like to go off and wander around and see the sea life. Keyboards are all nicely lined up and stuck in place making wonderful notes. I like the teachers that are highly independent divers. Out learning and exploring.

          Here is non YouTube tutorial: http://en.support.wordpress.com/images/

  2. Jim Sullivan says:

    I remember phones…

    A student of mine was just complaining about how no one answers their phone anymore. He voiced this complaint in facebook and had more than thirty replies from his friends.

    But to my knowledge, none of us called him!

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Todd Conaway says:

      My wife and daughter use texting way more than I do. It is weird to me to send a text that says, “Can you bring home some milk?” I would rather call and hear my wife’s voice and ask her how her day is and then ask if she might be able to grab some milk…