Tuesday, June 10, 2008

“Redefining curriculum as social practice forces the abandonment of monologic instruction and provides the social and cognitive rationale for including and constructing multiple forms of knowing. Through joint participation in a disruptive form of underlife, such as that found in the third space, both teachers and students are afforded the opportunity to relinquish traditional notions of power and the need for rigid and structured power relations as requisites for learning” (469).

I keep thinking about all this theory about changing the power structure in classrooms. We all get the theory behind it, but I wonder how easy it will be to actually change the entire national school system. This quote talks about giving teachers the 'opportunity' to give up control...but how many teachers actually would want to do that? I think it would take massive changes in how teacher education programs to get teachers to the point where they understand how and why they need to share power with their students. And how would this work within the larger school system, involving administrators, parents and the community?

1 comment:

Jason Lustig said...

I'm not sure there should be an absolute relinquishing of control to the combined third space.

I do feel strongly that we need a safe, supportive, engaging, authentic environment for children to learn and grow and change participation and all that. BUT

I also feel, maybe partly as a parent, that kids want structure, they want to know someone is in charge and consistently applying discipline and high expectations. That actually makes children feel safe. Numerous studies from a century of psychology and human development support this.

Many of the children we are most concerned with in Warner classes could use an extra boost of consistent supportive discipline and high expectations. If we expect the world from our kids and then give them the support (intellectually, emotionally and discipline/structurally) we can give them a fighting chance.

I don't mean to suggest a military style, or a ruler on the knuckles, but I mean that power structures exist within a family, community, etc... for a reason, kids do better at home when they know what is expected of them and the rewards for success and penalties for failure in meeting those expectations are clear and consistently applied.

Third space has a definite place in the library of tools we use as an educator, but to use it 100% of the time would lead to greater discipline problems and waste society's one great opportunity to give these kids a second family with all the learning, discipline, and love that goes along with a family.

Looking at the movie about Lynn Gatto I can't help but think that she doesn't use third space very often. It was clear she was in control of the overarching structure at all times, she had very high and clear expectations for her kids and she stuck with those expectations even when it meant a harsh reality for the child. I'm sure she brought student generated ideas, questions and interests into her work, but she did so selectively. She used it as a tool to facilitate what she was already doing, rather than allowing it to completely shift the dynamic of the class. In fact, she was acutely aware of students underlife and its attempts to change the dynamic and she put a quick end to it. I think this is best for kids, especially ones who may not get the unconditional love mixed with high expectations and consistent discipline anywhere else.