The figure above depicts my results from the Teaching Perspectives Inventory, a test which can be used to determine which traits or perspectives are dominant within a teaching professional’s practice.
My dominant perspective (though, as the website says, all teachers embody all five) is clear at a quick glance. I scored 43 out of a possible 45 in the Nurturing category, with my beliefs about this perspective coming in at only one point higher than my intentions and actions. My most recessive perspective, as well, is easy to spot: I scored the lowest in Transmission, with a measly 6 points in my intention for that category. My middle scores are fairly even, with Social Reform hopping ahead a bit to be my second most dominant perspective, and Apprenticeship/Development tying for the remaining middle spots.
These results did not surprise me, as these perspectives (notably, Nurturing and Social Reform) have been modelled for me by many other teachers throughout my life as a student. I notice and accept these perspective into my daily life, perhaps most notably in my recent escapades into teaching. In fact, I typically perform best when my two most dominant perspectives are more heavily taught, as opposed to Transmission, which loses me in the pursuit of right or wrong, with no middle ground. But in an academic world where hermeneutics and the ‘right answer’ reigns supreme, understanding becomes black or white. Yes or no. Right or wrong. What’s a social reforming nurturer to do?
At the very beginning of a transmedia story titled “A Vision of Students Today”, there is a quote from my personal media philosopher hero, Marshall McLuhan:
“Today’s child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules.”
When will the system adapt? What does this mean for future of universities, or the future of learning? What does this mean for the students of today today, if McLuhan was writing this in 1967?
We can look to L. W. Anderson and D. R. Krathwohl’s Expanded Taxonomy of Learning chart for a half-answer. Adapted from A Taxonomy for Learning, (and based on Bloom’s Taxonomy), the chart explores the supposed ‘levels’ of learning: from Remembering, which is all about the short-term ability to recall information, all the way to Creating, which allows the students to recognize patterns and incorporate many ideas into a whole. Creating, then, may be our answer to the question of 21st-century learning– it creates a more holistic knowledge, rather than one of memorization alone.
It is inherent to my teaching practice to critique the way the system has been set up. This is not simply to break the rules or to go against the grain, but to teach, (and thus, let students participate in learning) without fear of failure, while promoting a climate of understanding, community, and mobilization towards change. “But, Meg,” you may ask “how can you, a single person, promote change to an education system that has been around for way longer than you’ve been alive, let alone way longer than you’ve been a student (18 years) or been teaching (about 3 weeks, now)?”
If it weren’t for the few teachers who embodied these types of perspectives, who showed me that learning was exactly as abstract and subjective as I had always, deep down, understood it to be, I would not be sitting here writing this blog post for my MA University Teaching Course. I would have lost faith in the system long ago.
Perhaps, someday, I will contribute to one single student’s own personal realization about their own meaning of education. Perhaps it will light a fire inside of them, much like the one that burns inside of me.
Perhaps, that is enough for now.
Works Consulted: 1. Center for Teaching, Expanded Taxonomy of Learning. Adapted from L. W. Anderson and D. R. Krathwohl (eds). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing (based on Bloom’s Taxonomy), 2001.
2. Michael Wesch, “A Vision of Students Today”, Youtube, 12 October 2007. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o&feature=youtu.be