This, But Not That – A Reflection on the Consequences of Choice
It is so easy to get caught up wanting one thing, but not necessarily wanting everything that it may bring. Take for example, the following:
Want an 8 cylinder car, but don’t want to pay for the increase in petrol
Want to use Google Apps/Chromebook at school, but don’t want to invest in quality Internet and appropriate infrastructure
Want to go on a holiday, but don’t want to pay for accommodation
Want writing proofread, but don’t want to discuss any of the changes
Want students to be at the centre of learning, but still as a teacher want to have all the control
Want a bigger house, but don’t want to clean it or pay the increase mortgage repayments
Want to have a big night, but don’t want to put up with the hangover in the morning
And the list goes on … This happens in all facets of life, where there is a discrepancy between what we want and the reality of the full situation. However, it is becoming more and more pertinent in schools.
So often the ‘next best thing’ is brought in. However, all that will be discussed is the idea, the concept, the skill. What is often missed is the baggage that it brings along with it. For example, I remember when Restorative Practices came into my first school nearly 10 years ago. People thought that it was simply about using the right language and reading off a cue card. Although this is a part of it, for some it failed to bring about the desired results because deep down they still wanted to punish the students, they still wanted to enforce control and discipline. For although they would ‘read through the scripts’, it was what they did beyond those moments that undermined the whole program. What was missing was a change in mindset, a move away from punishment to a focus on relationships.
Another great example of wanting one thing, but not necessarily recognising all the other consequences, was outlined in the latest+TER Podcastin an interview with +David Zyngier about engagement, curriculum and pedagogoy. Through the course of the discussion, Zyngier discussed some of the myths and misnomers associated with creating an ‘engaging’ classroom. One of the things that came up was the call for smaller class sizes as an answer to engagement. However, as Hattie and co have pointed out, class sizes in itself has little impact on student achievement. What Zyngier points out though is that smaller class sizes combined with a change in pedagogy can have a positive impact, particularly in the early years. The problem is that so often we feel that continuing with the same old approaches will somehow achieve results simply because there are less students to teach. I think that ironically, the whole conversation between Zyngier and +Cameron Malcher,which started with ‘engagement’, basically pointed out that you can’t simply have ‘engagement’ in itself. Rather, engagement is something that intrinsically attached to so many other aspects of learning, such as knowing students’ background and interests, and if we are unwilling to recognise these requirements, then we cannot be surprised if students are not engaged.
As I have stated elsewhere, just as we have choice, so to do we have consequence. Often the worst decisions that we make are the choices where we are not also recognising the consequences at the same time.
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