Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chapter 17- Multicultural to Intercultural


A new book is on the horizon. Innovative Voices in Education- Engaging Diverse Communities, is described by  leading urban sociologist and Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education at New York University, Pedro Norguera as "clear and compelling… an invaluable resource."  Given that Norguera's scholarship and research focuses on the ways in which schools are influenced by social and economic conditions in the urban environment, his endoresment of this book is humbling and important.

I wrote the closing chapter for Innovative Voices... Multicultural to Intercultural: Developing Interdependent Learners. By design, the other sixteen chapters were written by a wonderfully diverse array of people from all over the place. All of this came together through the tireless efforts of Eileen Kugler, executive editor of the book. I am grateful to have contributed to such an interesting and thought-provoking process. Here is the summary of my chapter...
Kids from every corner of the globe attend Canadian schools; simply acknowledging this multiculturalism isn't good enough anymore. This educator asserts the need to move beyond a reciprocal appreciation of our differences toward an intercultural perspective that maximizes the social, emotional and academic potential of every student. We do this by fostering and teaching intercultural competence... the ability to effectively communicate with and learn from people of other cultures. This author introduces the Hope Wheel; an action oriented learning tool designed to support the development of respect, understanding, relationships and responsibility as students become interdependent travelers on the journey toward sociocultural and academic competence. To help prepare our children for the realities of their future, and to function more productively within the realities of the present, educators must embrace the diversity of our world and do everything they can to help kids connect with and learn from each other.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stories...

flickr CC image via Magenta Rose

Stories aren't a "communication tool." Stories just are... we use communication tools to tell them.

Stories are powerful, no doubt... perhaps more powerful than any other element of learning. How they are told makes lots of difference. When we tell stories that are personal, true, emotional and purposeful, they take on meaning that moves people. Whether these stories are told through words, pictures, writing, sculpture, photographs, paintings whatever... the tool serves to represent the story, but the story is there regardless whether someone chooses to tell it or not.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Learning Circle University...

So my friend Michael Josefowicz (@ToughLoveforX) proclaimed a week or so ago, "let's start a university!" Sounded a little crazy, but hey, I'm game for anything when it comes to collective intelligence around the improvement of teaching and learning. So here's how the story goes so far...

Michael and I speak often, almost daily, with just about anyone who shares our interest and passion for teaching and learning. We have connected with a growing cohort of similarly impassioned individuals and organizations around the world as our personal learning network by leveraging the varied social media outlets we each utilize. The last while, much of our conversation has revolved around the optimization of learning... specifically, what kinds of environments seem to promote learning. I think the key to learning is engagement. How to engage learners is possibly the largest challenge for any teacher. Each individual student possesses a unique and complex learning story that needs to be discovered; no small task. To create an authentic culture of learning that seeks to clarify and expose students' stories, teachers have to know these stories.

Professional Development?

flickr CC image via mikecogh

I've been grappling with the concept of professional development. Teachers tend to refer to any workshop, seminar or in-service as professional development, but I'm not sure about this.

Undoubtedly there are many valuable and purposeful workshops, seminars and in-services for teachers across many teaching and learning contexts. Teachers can be trained to do a number of specific things quite efficiently and adequately that enhance their skills as a teacher, but I don't call that professional development. I call it professional training. When we train as professionals, we learn how to do something, not why we do it, what philosophical rationale is behind it or what makes it a pedagogically sound practice. We learn new strategies so we can do our job. There is usefulness in all of this. There are loads of valuable predetermined teaching tools and resources that come with an already established set of instructions; sort of a paint-by-numbers situation. When we learn how to use these we aren't really developing anything, however. To develop as professionals means to engage in a quite different process.

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