Knowledge processes - Chapter 2: Life in Schools

Changing education

  • Collect a set of textbooks, workbooks, images or other relevant artefacts that represent your own experience of school learning. Compare your collection with other learners in your group and discuss how you would interpret your schooling in terms of the three educational paradigms characterised in this chapter.
  • Listtheivemostimportantthingsyouhavelearnedinlife.Werethesetaughtin school or did you learn them elsewhere?
  • Writeanautobiographicalnarrativethatpresentsapersonalproileofyour learning, including, for instance, key sites of learning, influential teachers, defining moments and life-transforming experiences.

Education today

  • Collect a set of documents, images and other pieces of evidence that tell you something about how education is regarded in your local or national community today. How are these similar to or different from your own images of learning?
  • Interview a teacher who has influenced you. What is their professional and personal story? Reflect on the ways in which their story has connected with yours.

The art and science of education

  • Examine the dictionary definition of the term ‘science’. How useful and appropriate is the term ‘science’ as a description of teaching and learning? Collate everyone’s responses and reflect on what that tells you about our experiences and understanding of education and the kind of professional practice that teaching is, or might be. What is more important: the art of teaching or the science of education? How do the two connect?
  • In pairs or small groups, consider the ‘dimensions’ of life in schools that have been presented in this chapter. Consider how aware you were of each of these when you were at school and how they impacted on your living and learning experiences. Put together a set of critical incidents you have experienced that highlights the significance of these dimensions for living and learning in school contexts. What insights might they provide for your own preparation to be a teacher?

Dimensions of education

  • Locate three experienced teachers who might become your professional mentors as you prepare yourself for the profession. Interview them and find out how the eight dimensions impacted on their practice of teaching and in what way.
  • In pairs or small groups, brainstorm or prepare a mind map about the challenges you think lie ahead for teachers and learners.

Ways of teaching and learning: didactic, authentic and transformative

  • Consider the three teaching and learning paradigms presented in this chapter. What do they have in common and what is different? Where might they overlap? Interview fellow students and experienced teachers to reflect on the scope of the table below. What was the social function or purpose of each way of teaching and learning?












Teaching paradigms: old, transitional and new

  • Many theorists believe that schools have not changed a lot despite other social and economic changes. Based on your own experience, do you agree? Debate this issue. One side should present evidence supporting the view that there has been considerable change, and that this is a good thing. The other side should support their case with evidence that traditional ways of teaching and learning endure, and properly so.
  • In groups or independently, prepare a discussion paper or presentation that outlines the key theoretical features for the three modes of teaching presented in this chapter.

Life in schools

  • Interview a number of parents about their expectations. What do they expect from formal education and schooling? Consider the alignment between the parents’ expectations and values implicit in the three traditions of schooling characterised in this chapter.
  • Interview a five-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 25-year-old. Map their popular culture and technology interactions. What were the 15-year-olds doing when they were five, and the 25-year-olds doing when they were five and 15? What are the generational differences? What are the implications of these generational differences for education?

The future of learning

  • Conduct a scenario-building exercise. Individually or in small groups, develop your own agenda for teaching and learning in the future based on the eight dimensions introduced in this chapter. Develop three scenarios: a ‘back-to-basics’ revival of traditional teaching; a visionary, almost sci-fi learning site (Abolish School! even); and something in the middle that is a more realistic assessment of the near future.
  • In groups, dramatize each of your scenarios and perform as a play, ‘A Day in the Life of XYZ School’, using irony to push the model you are illustrating to its logical, even hilarious conclusions.
  • Design an ideal classroom space. What would it include? What teaching tools would it have? What would it keep from the past, and what would it abandon?