Thursday, February 21, 2013

I am a Rushian

Language Arts lesson:

This is yet another setting where my mental paradigms about teaching is once again challenged, quite seriously this time.

The class uses a framework for analysing arguments. Made me wonder what theoretical model and mental framework I am using in history? Teaching of arguments is pegged to another 2x2 matrix unversial-specific/descriptive-prescriptive. There is a sustained effort to train answers to approximate these frameworks. Whereas, in the O Level setting, we are just interested in the answers. At least for me.

Students are given sustained silent reading time to analyse the sample text. Up to 40 minutes of quiet time to study the text. With no interruptions, students were engaged in their task, it was inconvenient even for me to ask them questions.

When students were done with the reading, there was time for the teacher to ask questions about the text. The teacher took in all kinds of questions. Everyone had a chance to speak. There was time allocated to hear them out. There was no rushing. The teacher did not ask questions as mere serendipity, he did not ask questions for token responses. He did not rush them to speak and quickly close the session because he had no time, he had to move on, there were topics to cover, syllabus to teach. There was time to indulge, to read, time to spend, time to immerse.

What struck me about this lesson was the time to given for students to engage the text and time for students to give their responses. It did not occur to me the teacher gave only token time to read and token time to respond. There was no rushing. It made to realise how, coming from teaching the O level, I am a rushian. I am so used to having so much to cover, so much we need to tell them, so much I had to do, so many times I have to repeat myself, because there were so many students and some of them were learning and responding at different rates, different moments, different times. I feel I am so used to being an train station announcement system, repeating the same, slightly different information, for the so many commuters who enter the "station" at different times. But they all did not stay in the station for the entire duration.

I feel that I have to be the one doing something all the time. I feel that any sustained time given to them for reading, reflecting, is time taken away from me and what I have to cover. It is time when I am not "working". What would a traditional teacher expect from a classroom? A teacher actively teaching is the impression we once had of what it means to be a classroom where there is teaching and learning. How far is this true? I need to rethink this. And start believing I have the time, there is not need to rush, every response is valuable for it own sake, not just because they are the answers I want to hear.