Yesterday something extraordinary happened.
I was asked to run a session for colleagues at my university on learning and teaching as their first session of a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching. Planning for this was like swimming in alphabet soup in my mind and gathering words – I knew what I did not want the session to be, but I wasn’t sure how I would or should tailor the session. I knew nothing about the group – who they were, why they were there, what their responsibilities or roles in their jobs were, or what their experience or conception of learning entailed – and all this matters.
In the past I have run sessions where the room is set out as an orchestra and everyone comes in to find that they will be not observing, but playing in that orchestra. Magic. This year though, that felt like hard work. (After yesterday though, I would like the opportunity to do that with this group) What I did instead was to divide them into groups of four and give each group an instrument. Each group had a different remit: one group was explicitly ‘taught’ by me, one group was told to just figure it out however they liked, one group was given roles for everyone – a facilitator, a scribe, someone to make an abstract map (mind map or the like) of the learning and happenings, and one person to be a designated researcher to find resources. Then after an exploratory 15 mins we came back to discuss what happened, and compare the perceptions of the learners and the others in the groups. -and to perform whatever they ‘figured out’. We heard twinkle twinkle from one group, Clair de lune from another (on viola! yes, I gave them a viola!!), and an improvised jazz/percussion piece from another group.
It was impossible in a short 90 min session to convey what they were actually experiencing from a theoretical standpoint.
Experience is a marvellous teacher, but when you are swimming in the water, you cannot also drink it or wash with it. One thing and ‘one think’ (as one of my children used to say) at a time. Read more