Inclusive Societies

Every person is different naturally. While some of those differences are visible, others are not that obvious. For example, our race/ethnicity (most of the time), sex, and approximate age can be guessed, but our biases and family cultures or genders cannot. In other words, every single person is different somehow in a society, but how much we aware of that? or how much we aware of ourselves and other people’ differences?

The book ‘Hidden Brain’ explains conscious and unconscious minds very well in my understanding from the article called “How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us“. As he said, all of us have some sorts of biases about certain issues, and some of those are conscious while the rest are unconscious. For example, when we raise children, our unconscious biases are much more influential, and these affect children sometimes together with our own culture which we live in.

Different Voices of Teaching

Teaching depends on the teacher’s perspective, ability to teach, and the teaching style. Because everybody has its own style of teaching and “teaching voice” such as learning, and their approach and perspective lead to creating that style.

When I was reading Sarah Deel’s “Finding My Teaching Voice”, she was saying: “I had tried adopting the teaching styles of the good teachers I remembered, and it had not been an improvement, for me or the students.”. It is understandable because every person has its own style according to their character.

Describing ourselves as a teacher, especially without teaching experience, is not as easy. Teaching is a totally different type of communication than our everyday interaction with people.

Also, common rubric for a certain class is difficult to provide a fair environment in a class. Because every person is different and everyone’s assessment criteria can be different as Deel mentioned. But it is one of the hardest work as a teacher.

Purpose, Mastery, and Autonomy. Which one is more powerful motivator?

When I listen to Dan Pink’s TED talk, I realized I already experienced them all, purpose, autonomy, and mastery, but did not know exactly the difference. Since I know right now, I can say that I absolutely agree with him and none of the assignments or grading system works well as much as those.

When I was working in D.C. before coming to Blacksburg, I was not a supervisor, but nobody was telling me what I should do because I already knew what needs to be done. I had an autonomy on my job. Actually, that situation was a great motivator for me. I was happy and never thinking to quit. The quality of my life was better when I look from outside, but my purpose was set even before starting to work. I wanted to do Ph.D. and had a purpose to go back to academia as a professor. I quit the job, left my home there and moved to Blacksburg. It was quite challenging decision for me because I was living in Istanbul before and love living in big cities, personally. It is interesting because I am actually here, in this class, Contemporary Pedagogy, and in Blacksburg, just to learn something and be a good educator at the end. I aimed to gain different perspectives, but now I am forcing myself to write a blog as an assignment. It means, I have a purpose but still grades are important somehow.

On the other hand, I can tell that I started to learn more in grad school because I was trying to keep my grades high until grad school. My first concern was a grade, so I did not study for learning. In other words, I tried to memorize whatever the professor showed us and did not learn really. I never ever learned anything in my life without learning purpose. If my purpose or motivation is not learning, then I do not learn at all. Particularly, memorize something is not my cup of tea. But after I started to grad school, everything has been changed. I knew that nobody would care about my grades anymore, and nobody would judge me by looking my grades. My purpose was learning that time and I did not care grades, I cared to learn but got good grades. Because my professors also were caring teaching more than our grades.

I first realized that the grade is not a purpose, learning is the most important factor when I was taking my Quantitative class. As many of us in the Contemporary Pedagogy class heard the Professor name David Kniola thought me that the school or university whatever is not just for giving grades to students, they are actually for teaching how to be a better learner -and also a teacher- in life. Knowing yourself and your own style of learning and teaching was the purpose of his Quantitative Research Method class. Which is extremely important and meaningful to me because I never saw a professor like him before. And I never understood before that the mastery is one of the best ways of teaching or learning. Even the best professors considered grade as a motivator in my life. And I think, I got used to that idea and cared about grades too much unintentionally.

I think each professor should think about motivators. They should think about if the grade can be a motivator. Or they should think about what is their aim in the class. For example, a professor punished me with a grade last semester. She asked me a tricky question and I kindly give feedback to her about the course as an answer, and then she gave me a lower grade and she decided not to be in my dissertation committee anymore. I thought she was serious when she asked me my opinion about that course. I did not say anything wrong or rude for sure, but she was expecting compliments I assume. She forgot something: I came here not for a grade, I came here to be a better researcher and a better educator. It means, I always should have ideas about courses, about educators and everything because I am observing and evaluating faculties and students, of course. And I am thinking how can it be better? Because I want to be a professor soon and should develop a good strategy and perspective about it. Did her punishment motivated me? Of course not! It only made me sad because it is sad to see institutions have those kinds of educators. But understood that, I know that if I am not ready to hear, I will never ask any student about feedback for my course or my research 🙂

New Ways of Teaching and Their Effectiveness

I am not in education measure, but I am trying to learn somehow since I born, and I am planning to teach as well. So, I think I might tell something about this subject a little bit…

The traditional way of teaching is not effective as Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown said, I agree with that. Also, I agree with what they are saying about creating a learning community and I am sure it works perfectly for most students. But, I think K-12 and college students need a teacher in person anyway. They might need a teacher to direct and help them.

Sam’s example is a good one in the article and it seems a really successful way of teaching. On the other hand, not all of the subjects are suitable to learn with this technique. Or if a child learns certain things with this technique, maybe they can concentrate to one or two specific subjects during a specific time, otherwise, it would be hard to maintain that learning process for more than couple subject for a long time. If we want to replace traditional 45 minutes lecture style with something new, this technique does not seem applicable to all curriculum at the same time.

Also, creating a student-lead learning environment idea might work better than the traditional approach to create a better learning environment in schools. Because each generation is different and begins to be even more different in time. They know what kinds of environment would be better for them not to get bored and help them to learn better.

Motivation and social support are successful tools for creating better environments. Those tools have also been using in health behavior theories to change people’s behaviors. So, being in a social environment affects people’s motivation and ability to change their behaviors and it is really smart to use those in educational settings.

These new ways of learning may not cover every student. For example, I like that interaction between the teacher and me when I am in the process of learning. If I learn by reading, it is so easy to forget, but I can learn easily if somebody teaches me in person. As Robert Talbert said in the conclusion, balance is important to create the most effective learning environment. Lecture is important not only as an information transfer, but also sharing experiences and helping students at some point. On the other hand, activities are important for students to learn the subject better and develop their other skills such as socialization, self-confidence, reaching the information by using an appropriate way, and motivation.

Blogging is free, but…

When I first started blogging, I was feeling extremely uncomfortable and weird. And yes, weird is the right word for that situation because I loved writing to a paper and do not like technology so much, unfortunately.

I was writing dairy when I was in high school and was sharing my opinions and thoughts with my friends and family members by speaking. Blogging is totally different than this. When you write your thoughts, nobody reads it. You are only transferring them to a paper. And, when you talk with people in person, you can see their reactions and those reactions directs your thoughts sometimes. Or, when you say something, you know that your audiences know who you are and your thoughts, character, and more. Either one makes people feel comfortable. But blogging is different. First of all, you should type it by using a keyboard. And anybody can read, comment on it, and judge you. this judgment might be about your thoughts, your language, your grammar, even sometimes about your character. Because other people do not know you, your position, your situation, and they might have some expectations when you do something public. If you open yourself to the public, your thoughts and opinions become public goods anymore. And everybody has a right to judge or do whatever they want with it after that point.