On the weekend I attended the #beerpedagogy tweet up. I always look forward to a #beerpedagogy event, and no not because of the beer! You may be wondering what on earth #beerpedagogy is and it is probably just as you think. A group of people who get together every now and then at a great craft beer location in Melbourne and talk pedagogy. And we talk a lot of it! I am lucky enough to attend a lot of educational meet ups in Melbourne and enjoy them all but #beerpedagogy is different to the others. There are many robust conversations as we agree and disagree on the best way to solve all of the world’s education problems and have discussions on what the problems are. And we are pretty honest with each other as we probe and question our thoughts, learning from each other and being challenged as well.
The conversations are so good that often days and weeks afterwards I continue to grapple with them in my mind. The one that is sticking in my mind from Friday’s #beerpedagogy was around autonomy and choice in education. At one point I was questioned on my contradictions of educational philosophies where on one hand I want equity, centralised systems and an end to marketisation of education but on the other I cherish the opportunities autonomy gives me to focus on pedagogy based around inquiry, student centred approaches and the use of ICT in my classroom. At the time I was quick to reply that I would trade it all if it meant that every child in Australia had the same opportunity for education. One where who your parents are, where you live and how much money you have is irrelevant in learning.
So the last couple of days have been spent reflecting on that. I have been curious as to why we need to decide. What is it that makes me think we can’t have both. I think if anything it shows me that we are not yet in the same place when it comes to how we think students learn, what skills are important for students to learn and how best to do that. And the reason I felt I needed to choose is because the way I think our students should be learning is not yet the norm. It reminds me of a quote I heard on the radio recently. I have no idea what they were talking about and why it was important but I felt it worthy of writing down. “By treating it as normal it became a new culture.” So today that I have decided that I am not going to choose. I can still push for equity and maybe if I start treating inquiry, student driven learning as normal that together with a few of my #beerpedagogy mates it will become a new culture.