The following comment is in response to Kath’s post relating to Jane (2).
Kath makes an excellent observation about Jane needing to find ‘hooks’ to connect prior knowledge to new knowledge. An excellent technique for reinforcing the neural networks involved in association and memory is to have students represent these networks by drawing ‘mind’ or concept maps which show the connections between ideas (Joseph, 2003).
Kath notes that students will struggle to reach Piaget’s formal operational stage if they lack physical maturation and social and environmental influences. This is a valid point, and if we consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Huitt, 2007) then it is clear that Jane will struggle to meet their academic needs if students are lacking basic physiological needs like nutrition. Jane must take her concerns to the councilor and the executive, because she has a duty of care to ensure student well-being where possible.
It is not certain from Jane’s scenario that her students on farms will lack social interaction generally, just that they don’t mix with town kids. It is possible, though admittedly unlikely, that these students achieve necessary socialization with each-other at school, with family and neighbours, and online. It is unlikely that the town kids are clearly more experienced than their farm-based contemporaries, therefore I am not sure where Kath derived the conclusion that, “Jane’s more remote students are not getting the social interactions as they are isolated from the community and spend their time with peers or with the same set of adults”. While this may be implied by Jane’s scenario, it is not definitively stated and thus I think Kath should have been a little more cautious in her statement. However, I agree that If the students from more isolated farms do lack social interaction; then Kath’s inference is valid.
– Huitt, W. (2007) ‘Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’, Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University, retrieved 29 April, 2011, from: http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/regsys/maslow.html
– Joseph, J. (2003) ‘Learning with the Brain in Mind’, Focus Education Australia, accessed 29 April, 2011 from: http://www.focuseducation.com.au/Webzine/Learning_with_the_brain_in_mind.pdf
The following comment is in response to Danielle’s post relating to Tracy (2).
Danielle’s comments are insightful, though they could afford to be more concise.
I agree with Danielle that teachers must deal with students as a whole person and that, having been at the school since the outset, she is in a position to encourage students and parents to embrace her broader approach to learning. It should also be noted that she is in a good position to develop influence with other (newer) teachers and the school executive. By continuing to network with students and their parents, she will demonstrate that she is a proactive teacher, both regarding schooll priorities but also her own curriculum creation. She will likely develop increasing influence among the whole school community, and when this new school has some breathing space to re-evaluate its priorities, it is probable that Tracy will find herself in a position to influence the direction of the new priorities.
Danielle makes the excellent point that Tracy can combine her own goals and those of the students, parents and executive if she finds ways to incorporate her cross-curricular priorities and students interests into her existing curriculum. This would allow her to be satisfied with the depth of her curriculum and student learning experiences, without requiring students, or parents, to expend additional time. It is admirable that Tracy demonstrates hard work and enthusiasm, however in order to preserve herself she must recognize that she is accountable to more than just her idea of what is best for her students. She must consider the priorities of the school/executive, which may require a conservative approach to balance a wide range of competing staff priorities.
If NAPLAN and ATAR are major preoccupations for students and their parents, this may be because the school is new and outcomes aren’t as reliable, and also because the emphasis on results is widespread. If Tracy wants to encourage good results and good student development generally at the same time, she may consider holding some parent information sessions on the value of a rounded education, emphasizing the ideas of the great education thinkers from history (Murik, 2007) and also the more recent thoughts on cognitive and social development, including research which demonstrates higher academic achievement resulting from education incorporating moral values and a high degree of relevance to society (Newmann, Marks & Gamoran, 1996). If parents focus is on their kids’ results, and if Tracy can make a convincing case for her alternative programs, then it seems that their priorities could align.
– Murik, J. (2007), ‘Notes on Education: Historical Perspectives’, University of Canberra, accessed 29 April, 2011.
– Newmann, F. M., Marks, H. M. & Gamoran, A. (1996) ‘Authentic Pedagogy and Student Performance’, American Journal of Education, v.104, n.4, pp.280-312, retrieved 2 May 2011, via EBSCOhost.