Creating possibilities in learning

For two days, we are being engaged in a trip into the roots of education – an important step of revision and re-visioning our ideas and purposes for learning.

Our task? To begin to understand ways of actualising a new Parramatta Catholic Education Framework.

Our leader in this process is Yoram Harpaz, founding Director of the Community of Thinking programme at the Branco Weiss Institute in Jerusalem.

We are doing this in order to help us draw a new conceptual map of education to define our aims and means of education. Schools are in deep crisis – they no longer work effectively for 21C – but for now we don’t have strong alternatives in place.

We need to ask ourselves some fundamental questions – and the most fundamental is “what is education?” and “what does it mean to prepare students for their lives in the 21st century”?.

Yoram mentioned many times that schooling has been a very successful sociological experiment, but a failure for our students because of our inconsistency in our pedagogical frameworks.

Yoram jokingly says that we operate as if it “Doesn’t matter what you teach so long as it’s boring!”

Essentially we have to find, what Yoram calls, “our pedagogical sentiment”. There are lots of slogans, but what is our real authentic pedagogy or stance? How do we turn our classrooms into a community – a community of thinkers? He wants students to experience knowledge as human creation.

The thing we are investigating is Yoram’s Third Model which is about ‘disruptive intelligence’, about sharing ideas, working together because

thinking is a dialogic and societal process.

Our purpose should be about putting dialectic pressure on students. If we are flexible and sensitive then teaching can support learning. I love the idea of ‘teacher as therapist!’

Yoram is also a strong advocate of ‘story’, and the human narrative, which fits very well with digital story in a Web 2.0 context as well. As he explains, knowledge is created by human beings – it is storytelling which helps put order into our chaotic life and insert some logic into the mystery of life. We want our students to create their own stories, their own interpretation, and original ways to solutions.

Knowledge is not an object – Knowledge is a ‘story that works’

The Department of Education and Children’s Services in South Australia provides a good series of informative links for Dr Yoram Harpaz.

Harpaz & Lefstein: Changing Schools – What sorts of changes in schools should we be putting energy into?

I’ve got more to write about this on another day….

Image from jakedobkin.