Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conversation on Goodreads

I´m on a website on which you can catalog your books. It´s called Goodreads. It´s free and nice. There are groups. In the groups are discussions. The following is a conversation about Classroom Management.

If only I could find people in real life that wanted to discuss things like this. Soon enough, my friends. Soon enough.

Barbara (made-up name):
Although I support the ideas discussed by Kohn, Dewey, Friere and the like, I don't know how applicable those ideas are if the teacher does not have good management skills.

Cameron (me):
For me, the ideas of those you mentioned, along with thoughts from Rousseau, Henry Giroux, bell hooks, for example, help in a very specific way; a way, unfortunately, that is not desired by many teachers. There are many teachers looking for manuals, complete with specific activities and management strategies for use in the classroom.

What Freire and the others do is provide a theoretical framework which can be internalized critically by the teacher. In having internalized an ideology that becomes personal, teachers are more easily able to be natural in their approach to management, and are also afforded the comfort in knowing that the decisions they make are in line with what they believe on a macrocosmic, theoretical level.

On the other hand, there are some that find specific methods that they enjoy, or that might work with one classroom, and they become enamored with said methods or activities. In doing so, they haven´t taken the step to realize why said method worked with that specific group of kiddos. What ends up happening, especially if teachers change grade levels, is that they are not equipped with a strong ideology of Management (which is what Freire and others offer), but rather a number (perhaps a few dozen) specific activities or methods that might only successfully apply to one group of kiddos, in one grade, and for one situation.

If you can develop the ideological framework, you´ll be able to critically investigate millions of ways to allow that ideology to manifest itself in good classroom management. This is because you believe in it, not because you expect it to produce results, but because you believe in the theoretical underpinnings thereof.

Jackson (made-up name):
Great post Cameron. I often wonder how teachers who have not spent time thinking about these big picture questions are able to sort through the drifting sea of specific rules and techniques offered by the many commentators in our field. How do they seperate the wheat from the chaff?

As Nel Noddings said, "How much more precious is a little humanity than all the rules in the world?"

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