So I made a somewhat impulsive decision about six weeks ago: I decided to enrol in a Bachelor of Education course after thirty years. Perhaps it wasn’t impulsive. Perhaps I should have done it thirty years ago.
I have been actively involved with instructing both children and adults over the years, lecturing in various adult courses, private music tuition, running music and drama groups and so on. But I have never been able to get a serious paid job as I have never done the study to receive the academic qualification.
So back to school I went, and have been rapidly reengaging the brain cells with serious study. A bit of a shock to the old system, I have to say.
So have I learned anything in the last four weeks? Actually – yes! And it was probably a light-bulb moment when I suddenly understood something that has been bothering me for probably twelve to fifteen years.
I have not been able to understand why my teenage and now adult children have to question everything. They are not content to settle for the age-old thoughts and ways of doing things. There is always some objection to my set-in-stone doctrine and world view.
But the last couple of weeks, we have been investigating the relatively new way of education called ‘student focussed learning’. Now how is that different to the way I was educated? I’m glad you asked. Back in the 1970’s, we sat in our rows of desks, watched and listened (according to theory) to the teacher as he droned on at the blackboard, scratching things up with chalk, referring to the one and only text book, and then we were asked to repeat the information. We learned by rote and regurgitated the information (or not) at exam time. We would not have dared question the principle or investigate the subject for soundness of theory. And we certainly didn’t talk to the other students for fear of receiving a clout from a blackboard duster that could well come sailing through the air toward our head. Ours was an education of ‘sit down, listen, repeat after me’. Got it? Good! Now don’t forget it!
Apparently things have changed. Somewhere in the 1980’s students were encouraged to research, dialogue with their fellow student’s, question the topic etc. The teacher provides the topics and suggests resources, and may even guide the discussions, but essentially the student is asked to critically analyse the information, to find the flaws, suggest solutions and so on.
So now I understand why there has been so much mental and emotional conflict in the household. As a result of my teacher focussed education, we got some information, we formed a fairly restrictive world-view, set it in stone, and went on our merry way. This generation have found flaws in my world-view, and feel obliged to point out the holes in my research, and, bless their hearts, feel a need to encourage me to investigate further.
Isn’t that annoying? And awkward, especially when you find out new information to hand that sheds light on a dearly-loved-doctrine and shows it to be flimsy at best.
Anyway, at least I now understand why this generational conflict has occurred, and now have only to negotiate the challenge: am I willing to take the lid of my set-in-stone ideas and doctrines, and allow them to be examined and criticised, or would I prefer to keep the blinders on. Frankly, I’d prefer to keep the blinders on, and tell the little treasures to do as they’re told! But I suppose that would just make me ignorant and ridiculous. It’s all very inconvenient.