To Infinity…and beyond!

“To infinity…and beyond!”
                          -Buzz Lightyear, Toy Story.

As I mentioned in my previous entry, I’m undertaking the Honours stream as part of my degree. My research, after funnelling it down from “Is the degree worth doing?” has become an investigation into the beliefs of pre-service teachers about the Arts in education and how those beliefs have been shaped by discourse and experiences, both personally and through the initial teacher education program and the positions taken-up by pre-service teachers as a result. The literature that I’ve read thus far indicates that the benefits of the Arts in education are well-known and acknowledged, however there is a gap in what is understood about the beneficence of the Arts in education, and the take up of the Arts in pedagogical practice.

The broader area of ‘is the degree worth doing’ is something that I plan to return to/continue examining in the future, though I suspect that the focus area will change, and it seems prudent to stay in touch with what is happening in education research through an online professional learning network combining social media and the longer form of blog articles.

I also intend to use the blog as a platform for professional reflection as my practice evolves through the combination of continued pedagogical practice, professional development, educational research – both my own and others’- and hopefully I will receive critical feedback from other educators through this medium.

I will be considered a ‘new scheme’ teacher here in Australia, and accordingly will be required to conform to the AITSL accreditation process, part of which will inherently involve, I believe, remaining up to date with 21st century teaching practices, including challenge/problem based learning, ICT integration, KLA curriculum integration, flipped classrooms, self-directed learning and the like.
The school at which I am undertaking my final prac has a class trialling 1:1 iPads, and the Executive have advised other teachers in the school that they can take part in the trial if they present an action research project that it will be trialled under, as that was one of the parameters for the trial already underway. I’m incredibly excited about what I’ve seen so far, as it represents my understanding of what education should be, based on what I’ve been hearing about twenty-first century learning for the last few years over the course of my degree.

The plan is to excel during my internship (I certainly don’t plan to fail or be mediocre…no “ps get degrees for me” thankyou very much. (That’s the (unjustified) snob in me coming through)) and sit down with my cooperating teacher and the principal, who I’ve formed a strong working relationship with, and put forward an action research project indicating how I would utilise and track usage of and the results of 1:1 iPads and the ‘anywhere, anytime learning environment that it would create, so that if there are any full time teaching positions coming up, that my name is at the very least, towards the top of the list of contenders they have in their minds. Ambitious, I realise, likely naively so given that I’ll also be in the process of conducting my Honours research, but I’ve found that I do my best work under a bit of pressure. Also, if a career in educational research is part of my future, then from what I understand, it’s quite common to have multiple ‘pans on the stove’ at any one time.

So that is where my focus will be moving to next; the flipped classroom, associated pedagogical practices, and the ‘anytime, anywhere’ teaching mindset and the challenges of changing planning/programming/teaching practices accordingly, and it very much like going down the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, or diving into infinity and beyond, as Buzz Lightyear likes to say, as I suspect that no matter how much reading I do, there will always be more to learn.

Some names that I’ve come across in my own readings, or had recommended to me as being highly relevant, insightful, challenging or futuristic in their thinking, include Sir Ken Robinson, Seymour Papert, Sugata Mitra and Ralph Pirozzo. There are of course many others at the forefront of education research who are helping to pull the education system kicking and screaming into the twenty-first century, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment. Feel free to recommend others.

I’ll be aiming for weekly blogs during this ‘introductory’ phase, and accordingly my next post will be next weekend, and aim is for it to be an elucidation of my teaching philosophy.

Thank you for reading.

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