Saturday, August 6, 2011

'I've Been Thinking'

My e-Fellow colleague Tara Taylor-Jorgensen has been exploring and researching MIE (Minimally Invasive Education), based on the work of Dr Sugata Mitra and influenced by Sir Ken Robinson, with her students at Bairds Mainfreight Primary in Auckland. As I have been following her journey I have spent a lot of time reflecting on how I can also apply these ideas into my own teaching practice.
At the same time I have also been following the journey of another e-Fellow colleague Florence Lyons as she works on creating an online French language course. In a recent blog post she discussed what is learning?
This has led me to several ‘AHA’ moments, as I look at my own teaching practice and the way I am working in the learning environment I am providing for my students.
The conclusions I have come to are that I am providing a MIE environment for our children. Activities and resources are set up for them to explore and investigate, with support, as we work primarily as facilitators with our children.
In relation to ICT’s I cannot help but think back on how in my early interaction with a computer it was the children who taught me how to use it. They showed me how to turn it on, negotiate my way around the desktop, use a mouse, open folders etc. I encourage and support our children to work as peer tutors in a similar manner when a child does not know how to use our ICT’s as I believe this allows for a reinforcement of prior learning and a self-esteem booster as well.
So often I have loaded a new piece of software onto the children’s computers and stood back to see what happens. They quickly work out the different parameters of what they are using and then share their discoveries with their peers. Often the new arrival will extend on the first child’s discoveries to a deeper level.
As I have undertaken research over the past six years I have come to see my role as a teacher becoming more that of a facilitator as I have learnt to stand back and see what happens as children interact with equipment and resources – not just ICT’s. There are times when I need to step in to support and build on what is happening to take the learning deeper and more complex but so often I am surprised and excited by what I observe happening. I recently had a visitor make the comment that the children in our Kindergarten are experienced researchers who know how to access and/or find the information they need or want. I was so stunned by this comment and felt really delighted that this could be observed by an outsider and also excited that what I value in learning happening for children is visibly happening in the environment I am providing.
I find that the MIE approach works across all the core curriculum areas, although there are times when guidance from a teacher is needed in the initial stages before they move on to explore and work.