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Paul Grobstein's picture

emergent pedagogy, further considerations

Nice challenge to the emergent pedagogy rhetoric, and some rich responses in the exchanges following it.  Some threads that seem to me worth pulling out and adding to an earlier effort to draw some lessons from the conversation ....

There is no such thing as a "neutral classroom"

An emergent classsroom is not neutral; it is structured in a way that may be more appealing to some students and less so to others.  The same is true of a "traditional" classroom.   Accordingly, one ought not to try and make arguments for emergent pedagogy based on what is fair or appealing to a diverse student population.  Nor ought one to try and make arguments for traditional pedagogy in those terms. "Just the facts" or "what experts agree on" or "all perspectives that I know about" is not "neutral" either in relation to student preferences or intellectually.

Good teaching of all kinds avoids presenting or giving the impression of presenting "truth."

This is achievable in either a traditional or an emergent mode.  It may, however, be somewhat easier to achieve in the emergent mode, where students are encouraged to themselves contribute to the range of things being presented and evaluated (as per "open-ended transactional inquiry") rather than being offered only the opportunity to evaluate a fixed set of given alternatives. 

The primary objective of an emergent classroom is to create an environment in which students enhance their skills as inquirers by engaging in active inquiry as it is most effectively done in all contexts, by a mutually supportive interaction of individual and collaborative exploration/creation/evaluation cycles.  

"it is focused on the individual in a way which does not conflict with the deep social nature of education, for the way the individual can best be open to new paths and so think about herself from new perspectives is by engaging in open and transformative relations with others"

By its very nature, a teacher can't force "emergent pedagogy" on a class.  The participants need to become persuaded of its usefulness in their own lives, present and future.  How can that be achieved locally?  institutionally?  What would it take to assure "a classroom full of students that buy into the idea of learning"?

"If students gain the capacity to think for themselves and the ability to work well in interactive groups, it seems like those traits l....  will allow for the student to have a better chance at excelling in her profession, and in turn having the financial means to support her family."

"What better way to prepare her for the real world of emergence than through an educational system of emergence?"

Maybe its a matter not only of practical outcomes in the near and long term but also of the sheer enjoyment (or lack thereof) in the short term?  And of a more general change in what we all expect of the educational process?




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