ERG SES C 13, Learning and Teaching
When we buy rice, we lose the capacity to buy salt (Teachers’ voice, 21 July, 2013)
What does make teaching a profession of pride? How does teaching affect students to feel proud to be an engaged participant in a classroom? What kind of teaching practices, theoretical frameworks and social aims are involved? When my particular research project aspired to develop a learning community in a rural secondary school in Bangladesh, these questions become relevant. In a wider context they tackle the gaps between teachers’ agency and students’ academic success. In many cases Bangladesh people tend to package teachers within a vision of the nobility of teaching without considering the fact that they also live in a society shaped by current economic patterns. Primarily this creates a context where teachers struggle to create a balance between pride of teaching and immediate life realities. This struggle creates unresolved shifts of feeling between power and powerlessness in teachers’ mind. This tension exists in different ways in most countries of Europe (Veen, 2008): for Bangladesh it is the grounded reality.
As a teacher educator, I suggest that in Bangladesh teachers could be seen as ideal social leaders. While at the same time teachers’ agency could also be identified in terms of the metaphor mentioned above. In the citation above the teacher was explaining that because he had already used his energy to meet the demands of syllabus completion and preparation for exams (rice), he could not manage to experiment with alternative approaches (salt). But the metaphor could be reversed to question if the staple (rice) might be participatory classroom learning, what is the value of rice and salt to realise the pride of teaching? Are rice and salt equally important to make the teachers agentic in their approaches so that they could successfully affect the students’ social, emotional, and cognitive learning experiences? Some of the complexity is because people’s aspirations of education are shaped by demanding economic patterns and yet they expect selfless dedication from the teachers. But most of the teachers live in the same social condition. In such a complex situation what should be wise and ethical teaching practice for a school?
This paper briefly reports the major outcomes of a collaborative project on the question: how can the teachers of a rural school develop pedagogical approaches which can enable students to be curious? In particular it reports ways in which participatory action research can promote opportunity to reflect on past experiences and enable teachers to examine challenges and opportunities for making a difference in their teaching approaches.
The conceptual framework of my project is based on understanding the theoretical principles of participatory action research (PAR). My own understanding of these principles broadly encompasses engagement, reflection and effort to see and do things differently. The conceptual framework for the discussion draws on understandings of educational praxis in a rural secondary school through Freirian critical educational practices and committed participation of the teachers in the research process (Freire, 1995; Kemmis and Smith, 2008, & Lather, 1991).
Broadly the conference theme aligns with the core commitment of participatory action research which is reflection on past experiences for exploring suitable alternatives. In particular, the exploration of teaching approaches that are both effective and accessible interrelates with the demand of complex understanding of changing perspectives and challenges the notion such as ‘teaching is not telling ’. And while the context of the project affirms values of research and development of creative and critical learning community, it interrogates such values in terms of what we expect from our teachers, and from our students, within grounded localised contexts.
Altrichter, H., Kemmis, S., McTaggart, R., & Zuber-Skerritt,O. (1991). Defining, confining or refining action research. In Ortrun, Z-S. (Ed), Action Research for Change and Development (pp.xi-xviii). Brookfield: Avebury. Brydon-Miller, M., Karl, M., Maguire, P., Noffke, S., & Sabhlok, A. (2011). Jazz and the banyan tree: Roots and riffs on participatory action research. In Denzin, N.K. & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds), pp. 387-400, The SAGE Handbook of Qualitative Research. London: Sage. Cardno, C. (2003). Action research: A developmental approach. Wellington: New Zealand Council for Educational Research. Freire, P. (1995). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum. Kemmis, S. & Smith, T. J. (2008). Personal praxis: learning through experience. In S. Kemmis & T. J. Smith (Eds.), Enabling Praxis: Challenges for Education (pp. 15-36). Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers. Kindon, S., Pain, R., & Kesby, M. (2007). Participatory action research: Origins, approaches, and methods. In S. Kindon, R. Pain, & M. Kesby (Eds), Participatory Action Research approaches and Methods: Connecting people, participation and place (pp. 9-18). London: Routledge. Lather, P. (1991). Getting smart: Feminist research and pedagogy with/in the postmodern. Routledge: New York. Stake, R. E. (2003). Case Studies. In N. K. Denzin, & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds), pp. 134-164, Strategies of Qualitative Inquiry. California: Sage Publications, Inc. Veen, K.V. (2008). Analysing teachers’ working conditions from the Perspective of teachers as professionals: The case of Dutch high school teachers. In J. Ax & P. Ponte (Eds.), Critiquing Praxis: Conceptual and Emperical Trends in the Teaching Profession (pp. 91-112). Rotterdam/Taipei: Sense Publishers
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
Network 2. Vocational Education and Training (VETNET)
Network 3. Curriculum Innovation
Network 4. Inclusive Education
Network 5. Children and Youth at Risk and Urban Education
Network 6. Open Learning: Media, Environments and Cultures
Network 7. Social Justice and Intercultural Education
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Network 10. Teacher Education Research
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Network 12. LISnet - Library and Information Science Network
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Network 15. Research Partnerships in Education
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Network 20. Research in Innovative Intercultural Learning Environments
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Network 25. Research on Children's Rights in Education
Network 26. Educational Leadership
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