#beerpedagogy and a new culture

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.



Image: ‘PUB FLAHERTY‘ Found on flickrcc.net

Who Needs a Philosophy? – I do!

I often reflect on myself as a teacher and the journey I have taken over the years.  I sometimes feel like I have only become a ‘real’ teacher in the last couple of years but I guess it is really that my teaching has taken the shift I am most proud of during this time.

I am currently participating the PLPConnectU program in Victoria and have thoroughly enjoyed the conversations and inspiring educators who I am now immersed with daily.  On our first face to face session and again during a recent elluminate session we were asked to share our philosophy on education.

Interestingly enough I have rarely been asked this question.  I think the last time was when I was at university.  Actually, it may have been the last essay I submitted, explaining my philiosphy in education.  Sadly I fear it was a regurgatation of theorists we had read about.  But it was percieved as being one of the most important aspects of an educator and certainly a requirement of every teacher.

It then took 10 years before I was asked about my philosophy again…. Not in a job interview, not in my performance review and certainly not in the staffroom.

Although I never shared it, I have always had a philosophy and it has always been changing.  Transforming my beliefs as I learned and experienced more. Taking what I saw and forming a new belief or being inspired by what I read and heard from others. Often it would blend around what I was told by my leaders as being important.

So what has changed in the last two years that has allowed me to develop and share  my own philosophy?  I guess blogging and twitter would have to be the main reasons.  I was introduced to amazing educators who could think for themselves, form beliefs and work towards them.  Through reading other’s work and hearing inspiring educators on twitter I started to question my own ideals and what education means to me. And then share them.

I guess by now you are wondering what my philosophy is!  It revolves around anywhere, anytime learning not based solely on content but on developing life long learners who can communicate, collaborate and create in today’s and future societies. I could go into great detail here but I think you get the picture!

So is a philosophy necessary to be an educator?  Do you think we need to talk about it more, in the staffroom, or with our leaders? How do we ensure we are being true to our philosophy whilst being held back by red tape? I would love to hear your thoughts.