Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Teaching Pedagogy & the Whatever Works Model

Recently, a former student asked for my thoughts on pedagogy - specifically what different approaches I might use.  Having been teaching for nearly two decades, I've seen various ideas come and go.  Thus, I'm of the "Whatever Works" philosophy, especially after years of teaching in a profession that is incredibly prone to fads and flavors-of-the-month.  I wouldn't rule out any approach as long as kids are engaged and learning is happening.  In my heart, I am a pretty traditional teacher, and I can lapse into lecture fairly easily.  And years ago, I would have dismissed ideas such as multi-genre writing as "foo foo" education.  Now, I am passionate about it - and I believe it produces some of the highest quality and relevant writing my students do all year.

These days I am willing to try any approach as long as it produces results.  At the core, classes needed to be well organized, challenging, and engaging.  They need to be child centered enough for interest, but also focused on the acquisition of knowledge and skills they students lack - even if the students don't know why they need it.  I'm more suspicious of learning technologies, but I have taught web design in class, and I think the model of the Khan Academy is exciting and revolutionary in terms of pedagogy.  There is no one truly effective school model, and any classroom, school, and district must incorporate and adapt to the culture of the community.

As noted, teaching fads come and go, and the idea of pedagogy can be complicated, inspiring passion and revulsion alike among educators.  But few would disagree with the argument that if it works, it's probably good practice.  And, that's a teacher's view of pedagogy.

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