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15 March; delayed notes

20 March 2011

Apologies for being late with this.

Reading groups:

Two main themes this week; the first arose from Jamie’s Dream School. Meriel discovered fuller and less selective versions of the lessons on YouTube; go here and scroll down until the number of views drops from about 30,000 to 5,000!

Even the more sensational incidents which appeared in the actual TV programmes have a lot to teach in terms of how these novice teachers got themselves into the messes they did.

The second theme was a discussion of how legitimate was Howard Becker’s article (see last week for the link). He came close to contending that (in respect of trades and skills at least) organised education is counter-productive.

That latter theme led to the idea of situated learning and communities of practice, introduced here. We looked at the far-from-straightforward relationship between practice-as-taught in class, and practice-in-the-real-world–and how that relates to occupational socialization, occupational sub-cultures (in the police, in nursing and social care, and in teaching) and informal mentoring. We talked about the NVQ revolution, and the problems of the “incompetent workplace”, and Amanda and Jackie (discreetly) brought that to life with some of their experiences of work placements. (I know the rambling discussion did not feel like we were “covering” such material, but my notes say we were…)

Threshold concepts

Much of what we discussed was simply an expansion of what I had already touched on in the reading recommended last week, but we did get a little into the implications of the idea for prioritising parts of the curriculum. Paul C mentioned the military approach of trying to break down skills into incremental steps, through which personnel could be systematically trained, and its limitations. This tied back into Gestalt leaps etc.

We also looked at how prescriptive curricula in what the Wolf report castigated as poor quality vocational programmes restricted the capacity to concentrate on what really matters… I might have mentioned it in passing, but my experience on Monday (no connection with this programme, incidentally) also touches on this point.

Next (this) week:

What with the briefing for the Study Day and Paul’s meeting to gather material for the consultative committee, it was all a bit messy organisationally and I didn’t gather the post-its in. Sorry!

But! It’s all about education and technology. Please read (and follow links from) this paper. BUT… I wasn’t really convinced by your denials of Becker’s case last week, but even I can see the holes in this ten-year-old paper of mine. What are they?

More up to date; there are some interesting thoughts here about blended learning and “flipping the classroom”.

See you Tuesday

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