My mind is still invigorated from my conversation about public sphere pedagogy with Thia Wolf on episode 101 of the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast.
Something special happens when we have our students take their work public in some way.
Whether I reflect on this past semester's experiments with poster sessions in my Consumer Behavior classes, or when my sales students role played a complex sale with someone they hadn't met before, the excitement of what these learning opportunities present energizes me.
My students were so engaged with the idea that their work could take on a more significant role than an exchange solely with me through the grading process.
The most fertile ground for significant learning experiences takes place within multiple disciplines.
Our educational system seems to be starting to figure this out at the preschool level, but I rarely see examples like this in higher ed. Our son's preschool writes about their curriculum this way:
Learning in preschool is hands-on and integrated. A child’s time outside chasing insects in the garden, for instance incorporates all the ‘dispositions for learning’ as well as cognitive development: science (“What kind of bug is this?” “What do they eat?”); math (“Is it larger or smaller than the other one?” “How many did you find today?”); language (“Monarch Butterflies are orange and black.” “Let’s make up a poem about butterflies!”); social skills (“How can we all see?” “You can have a turn next.”); physical development (running after the butterfly, carefully stepping around plants, manipulating the butterfly net); and creative (painting a picture of the butterfly in its habitat. Dancing and moving like one.)
There is no “math time,” “science time,” or “language time.” Learning is everywhere and happening all the time supported by teachers skilled at looking for and creating moments of discovery and learning based on children’s needs and interests.
I wish there was more of a push to have this paradigm in higher ed.
When we think of our students as producers of knowledge, the vision of higher education is magnified.
I recently came across the theme of Vanderbilt's Course Design Institute and was trying to figure out if there was a way I could attend, even though the application deadline has passed (oh yeah – and I don't work there).
Their site explain the Students as Producers theme as follows:
“Students as Producers” is shorthand for an approach to teaching that helps students become not just consumers of information, but also producers of knowledge, engaging in meaningful, generative work in the courses they take.
[reminder] Were you inspired by something that Thia Wolf shared about public sphere pedagogy, or have you tried something similar in your teaching? [/reminder]