This Thanksgiving my husband’s family came to visit and asked what classes I was taking this semester. “Contemporary Pedagogy,” I told them. Then, blank stares and looks of bewilderment before someone finally asked me “What is that?” I thought to myself a second and replied “Well, I guess it’s just a fancy way of saying Modern Teaching.” However, upon reflection of my answer and reflection of this course, I began to wonder, What is “Modern Teaching?”
I have always been a sucker for binge watching TED talks late into the night or listening to NPR’s TED Radio Hour while driving. However, I had never seen Seth Godin’s What is School For? and immediately watched it before reading any of the posted articles. I have to admit that I actually started taking notes half way through: post-it notes are now scattered across the wall above my campus desk. I especially liked, “If you are willing to be criticized for your work, then you have done a good day’s work” as well as his list of how modern education should change: things like “No more memorization, as anything worth memorizing should be looked up anyway” and “bring an end to compliance as an ending point” (in the educational system) come back to mind. His entire analogy of students being “Processed” and school running like “Factories” really hit the nail on the head for me. I was literally nodding along at my desk and remembering the traumatizing events from my grade school days.
After this course, I could say how I feel Contemporary Pedagogy should be, or what I think it should look like, or how I think it should be playing out in the classroom at a large state university. However, that wouldn’t be the reality and as a future professor that makes me sad. Yes, there is a movement towards student-centered learning and inclusive pedagogy, but by no means are we even close to my personal definition of “modern.”
Therefore, as a huge fan of Parker J. Palmer, I had to include on of my favorite quotes from the readings this week to end my final post for this course.
“But while we may find ourselves marginalized or dismissed for calling institutions to account, they are neither other than us nor alien to us; institutions are us. The shadows that institutions cast over our ethical lives are external expressions of our own inner shadows, individual and collective.”
Cheers and good luck everyone!