Archive for October, 2012

The Social Artist – reflection

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by onepercentyellow

When I returned from teaching abroad to finish my undergraduate degree, I was not expecting to truly engage in my coursework.  I had planned to complete the necessary tasks to obtain my parchment and had written off any naive desire to engage in the big questions of life.  My first day in class at Augustana banished that thought as I suddenly had names and theories to analyze my experiences in other countries over the past 4 years.  I realize now that this was my first taste of reflection, and I was immediately hooked.

The process of engaging the world with a set of questions and theoretical tools in the hopes of coming to some kind of understanding of how this crazy train fits itself together is the joy of the human project.  It’s the motivation behind learning – we want life to be easier, more rewarding, more enriching, more fair, and if we can determine why it is not this way, perhaps we can unlock the mystery that would lead us to our own utopia.  If we are sensitive enough, we move from examining the ticking mess of the outside world to scrutinizing our own reactions and interactions with our existence.

This process of reflection is not always a given.  There are many ways we have learned to refrain from asking questions of those things that are ‘working’ – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – but there are cultural norms, systems of power, political agendas, and personal relationships that are not actually ‘functioning’ though they seem to be ‘working’ when analyzed with the untrained eye.  It is only through exercising our critical reflection skills that we may have a chance to understand our own KEY role in life and the greater world.  Suddenly our actions have meaning, our thoughts and ideas have influence, and we begin to consciously create the world we want to live in, rather than blindly reproducing the world we have been taught.

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The Social Artist – self-directed learning

Posted in Uncategorized on October 3, 2012 by onepercentyellow

It seems a bit of an oxymoron to speak of teaching self-directed learning, but even the greatest leaders have been guided in uncovering their own self-directed style. Allowing space and time for students to explore their own passions is a key component to encouraging those self-directing skills, but in the end, educators must be cognizant of their own influence. As in my questions to Alec Couros in a post years ago, I wonder how to resolve the tension between teaching and liberating. How can we address the requirements of the academy while allowing enough space for students to express their work in ways that are personally meaningful? Can we pass on the cannon of thought without indoctrination? Are we open enough to allow students to hold contradictory positions to our own and to the history of our discipline if it is within their own understanding of the world?