- What has become normal in schools?
- What has become normal in life?
- How much of what is normal is acceptable?
- How much of what is normal is harmful or destructive?
- How much do we perpetuate the normal in schools?
- How do we challenge the normal in schools?
- How do we encourage our students to challenge the normal?
BIG questions. But, if we are not answering them in the world of education then where and when will they be answered? Can we afford not to answer them?
Thanks to Dominic Wilcox for challenging us to reinvent normal.
Thanks to Katherine Williams for sharing the video about Dominic.
Thanks to Twitter for connecting people’s minds.
When planning this workshop, I really wanted the participants to leave with something that they would remember, that would permeate the way they think and would help them with planning for teaching and learning that promotes international-mindedness.
Teaching is a highly complex job with a myriad of different approaches, tools, resources and strategies to everything we do. When browsing the professional section of my school library, I even found a book that contained 1000 photocopiable masters for making your classroom “more international”! I was determined to see things more deeply than that, and to do that I needed to present something powerful to the participants.
I don’t remember which PYP workshop I was in that presented me with a concentric circles diagram. However, it had a profound effect on me. From that day on I thought of nearly everything in terms of concentric circles and either a “journey inwards” from the outside, or a “journey outwards” from the centre. For example:
A Journey Inwards
Students are provoked using a variety of sources such as videos, websites, literature, guest speakers and so on. This could be on a global issue such as fishing practices or human trafficking. Teachers then guide students through the process of making connections that bring the issue closer to the student until they can make connections with it that are personal, and therefore meaningful. An example might be the fish that they eat and where it comes from, or the people that work for their family or in their community.
A Journey Outwards
Students are encouraged to reflect upon their own experiences, feelings, beliefs, values, passions, talents and so on. They are then guided through the process of making connections that enable them to understand that they are part of a complex world in which many people think, feel and act the same way. An example of this might be a student who is upset by the use of plastic bags making connections that lead them to global organizations working to reduce the amount of plastic bags consumed per year.
The mindset really helped me to see how often teaching remains in only one zone, never coming further inwards than knowledge of the global, or never progressing beyond the personal.
Here’s a wonderful “real-life” example:
Two boys decided, through the process of working out what was important to them, to focus on Autism for their PYP Exhibition – one of them calls himself an “Aspergian” and the other is his friend.
This could be a journey inwards as the two students consider a number of global issues before deciding to focus on something that is highly personal to them. Or, it could be a journey outwards as the students focus on themselves and then start to make connections within their community and beyond. Or both!
Either way, these two students have had the chance to inquire into something that is highly meaningful to them, they have clearly been empowered by the experience and will undoubtedly continue to work on this issue in the future. “It’s who I am”.