Tony Gurr

What does it mean to “UNcover” a CURRICULUM? (The Postscript)

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum on 09/10/2012 at 9:28 pm

At the very start of this mini-series (Pt 01), I kicked off with a little mini-quiz asking you to thunk about the collocations and synonyms stored in your grey matter vis-a-vis the word “curriculum”

OK – so I stacked to odds in my favour a wee bit!

But, I felt “cheeky” enough to ask whether my seeming ability to “guess” what was on your mind meant that (either) I was a really smart cookie or just really good at Jedi Mind Tricks

I’m not really that smart (as my darling wife knows all too well) – just got almost 30 years of making silly EDUmistakes under me belt…and a whole lot of LEARNing from them!

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However, I am savvy enough to know that when I do a post…like the last one (Pt 06)…or the Pt 05 that I did a couple of days ago, I’m going to get a reaction or 3

One of these…from one of my favourite “friendly critics”…came almost 2 minutes…yes, I said 2 minutes…after I published the last installment.

It went something like this:

Now, I know this was probably a cunning ruse to get a rise from me…someone trying to rattle my cage.

It worked!

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The thing is that there are still many of us out there in EDUland that do not get what Krissy was getting at…or the thunking behind many of the choices that great TEACHers make…Every. Single. Day…

I guess I need to explain this a wee bit…

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When someone asks you for a “checklist” or a set of Top 10 “tricks n’ hints”, what they are really asking is:

Looks harmless enough, yes?

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Unless you “notice”…something in the “way” they ask this question. That “way” can tell you a lot more than the six little letters that make up the question itself.

In fact, you can tell even more from the other questions that often come in its wake:

Do you “smell” it now?

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…especially “that” last onestinks to high heaven of:

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Now, I wish I could say all these questions were the product of my own grey matter – created by Peter Block they were (see, I did not forget what I hinted at in Pt 06 – and, it’s almost as if my “friendly critic” were as good at Jedi Mind Tricks as I is, too)!

But…I’ve “heard” them enough (or versions of them) over the decades!

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Peter highlights these questions to show how we have all become obsessed with “how-to pragmatism” – a product of living in an answer-orientated world and its love affair with the notion of best practice

…and a preference for asking the quick-fix question “What works?” rather than the far more important question “What matters?”!

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The resultin EDUcation?

The McDonaldification of LEARNing…embodied is such lovely little projects as “School-in-a-box” – projects that make some people almost as rich as God but…you know the rest!

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The problemall over the world?

When we ask “how to do” something, suggests Peter, the very question expresses our bias for what is practical, concrete, and immediately useful, often at the expense of the really important stuff!

Often, the very question itself (and all its little “mates”) becomes a defence against action. If you smelled me earlier, you’d have worked out that these questions are frequently used as “tools” by those who want to “keep their heads down and stick to the rules”rather than “acting on what matters”.

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The solution…says Peter (again) is to get back to asking powerful questionsthe right questions and paying careful attention to bringing people together as an engaged community.

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Questions like:

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…and:

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…even:

Now, you see where I get it all from…it’s in the genes, too!

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I dare you!

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OK – let me be dead honest hereyes, I usually tells fibs left, right and centre on the blog!

I do not actually believe that most TEACHers do ask all of Peter’s “how-to-pragmatism” questions (administrators and EDUmoney-guys – Mmmm, that’s a different story) or use them as “tools” to avoid “change”.

I think many of us have simply fallen foul of the 21st Century “illness” in EDUcationmore and more of us are doing more and more about things that mean less and less!

…and WE let this happen to US!

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Now, I know some of you actually follow the posts in sequence…and are probably asking:

“What the hell does all this have to do with…”

…around about NOW!

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I thunk we can actually use Peter’s logic…to formulate the right kind of questions we should be asking of our curricular, our syllabiour (bloody awful) pacing guides!

…and ask these “together” with other TEACHers…to help re-create the engaged communities of purpose that are hard-wired into all our genes!

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Questions like:

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…and, you guessed it, others like these:

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…in for a kuruş, in for a lira:

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…and (not forgetting where I comes from) – in for a pound, in for a penny:

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WHY?

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Because…Alberts says so:

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…and, you just know he is more than just a pretty face!

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Peter (though not as “sexy” as Albert) tells us that meaningful change or transformation can never come from collecting lists of best practices (or “tweets”) –

…to have to “pop” that little bubble (again)!

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…it comes from asking profound questions that “entail paradox, questions that recognize that every answer creates its own set of problems” (2003: p.27).

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Time to “take back” our classrooms, our curricular…our own CPD!

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BEDTIME READING:

If you read only ONE book today, make it Peter Block’s THE ANSWER TO HOW IS YES 

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