Tuesday, February 8, 2011

“Training is for pigeons" - The Subordination of Teaching to Learning

The Subordination of Teaching to Learning

#CCK11 - Week 4 Learning Theories

During the live sessions, one of our professors uses examples of learning situations that sound vaguely familiar to me... a fuzzy memory.

Today, I started to read some of the material written and curated by fellow students. And then... there was a name that jumped out at me. Maybe he is better known internationally...

Let's go back a few years.
We have worked all over the world, but always relish our Canadian summers. In 2009, we decided to push south and rented a house in Belchertown, MA - outside of Boston. Turned out that a good friend, Eaton Donald, from our days of ESL teaching in Japan, was going to be in New York city.

Eaton is one of those guys that can create their own reality. He thinks of an idea, makes a plan, gets the right people involved and voila - it happens. The great thing is that he is in it now for a higher purpose - the stuff of TEDtalks. He tried to explain to us that it all comes down to finding the root reason to everything. Once you can figure that out; it all falls into place... or something entrepreneurial like that (don't forget - Paul and I are teachers - not bloody miracle workers!)

Eaton told us of the journey he took after Paul and I had left Japan. He began taking Japanese lessons and stumbled onto a learning theory that really worked for him. His Japanese teacher gave him some reading material which turned into the seeds of a future plan.

Now in NYC, Eaton has bought the rights to the learning material and publications of this theory. We spent a few days watching and learning at his office. He introduced us to the widow of Caleb Gattegno - Shakti. She was still working on Caleb's documents and doing teacher workshops. The more we learned, the more we couldn't believe this wasn't in mainstream teacher training. Eaton gave us a pile of books and materials to bring back to Belgrade. 

We tried to explain these ideas to our colleagues, but we were pretty unclear ourselves as to how to proceed in our current school model (International Baccalaureate system is built on constructivism and inquiry based instruction). After reading more, I decided it wasn't an exact method that I had to use, but a philosophical shift in my view of learning. 

I recommend reading about The Subordination of Teaching to Learning. These are hard concepts for the traditional "good job" teacher/parent in us all. The Universe of Babies and Know Your Children As They Are are also excellent books to understand "knowing".

"Training is for pigeons" - Caleb Gattegno 1971

Further reading...

  • “Know Your Children As They Are”:  An important book for both educators and parents to understand their children from babies through adolescents
  • “The Universe of Babies”:  Gattegno outlines the steps babies take in their development.  The book provides insights on how parents can help their child flourish.
  • “Of Boys and Girls”:  Gattegno provides insights on improving the results for teaching boys and girls in all school subjects
  • “The Adolescent and His Will”:  Understand why adolescents act the way they do and how to best teach them
  • “What We Owe Children”:  Gattegno analyzes what children need to reach their potential.  He outlines what schools should achieve and what parents have a right to expect
  • “Evolution and Memory”: This book is a must read for any scientist and researcher interested in understanding memory and how it fits in educating the young
  • “The Mind Teaches the Brain”: Gattegno explores the relationship of the brain, the mind and the self in various aspects of human life and the implications these roles might have
  • “On Being Freer”: How can you live a freer life?
  • “Towards a Visual Culture”:  The key benefits for using media for education. What kind of programming enables children to learn the most?

Bronx school - http://www.bronxbetterlearning.org/index.php?topic=Curriculum

1 comment:

  1. Would be interested in hearing your view of Connectivism and IB schooling. I was very interested in IB for awhile and have to say was turned off buy the "College Board of the Globe" feel. Networked learning may diverge from stated curricular objectives (and I know there are freedoms built into IB), but I do wonder how well IB might take the flights of networked and connected learning?

    Further, on teh topics of Eaton, can you really buy a theory....A social construction....?

    Thank you for the post!