Questioning Pedagogy

EdCan Network – Signals of Change
The Signal: Questioning Pedagogy (March 2018)

https://www.edcan.ca/articles/signal-questioning-pedagogy/ 

I am pretty proud of this publication. I would say it’s my first official publication as “Dr. Younghusband.” It’s a Canadian Education magazine and this edition was about the “Signals of Change.” I was fortunate to participate in this Canada-wide discussion on the signals of change in Canadian Education. I had the pleasure of meeting Stephen Hurley at Rose Point School in Vancouver and enjoyed the group discussion. I also enjoyed our phone conversation prior to this meeting. We spoke about ourselves and my dissertation. I was still in the writing process. Stephen gave me some insight on the direction of K-12 math education in Ontario and educational reform, which made it into my dissertation. For that, I am very thankful for the conversation and this experience.

Participants of the “Signals of Change” had the opportunity to write a brief submission on one signal we are observing. With many submissions, only five were going to be chosen to be published and the others available electronically. At the time, I was inspired to write about student voice and student agency. Students desire agency and empowerment. I was enlightened by students in the writing of this article. It was based on listening to secondary students and observing what I see. Students are QUESTIONING PEDAGOGY and I wonder if we are listening. How things are taught, assessed, and evaluated are important to students. Are we listening? If so, what are we doing about it? In the end, students realize they just have to get through, so compliance and silence prevails.

Thank you Education Canada for selecting my article as one of the five and publishing it as the first of five in the magazine in the section “A Slew of Change.” Students need their voice heard, but also we are also called to action: to listen and respond accordingly. Aside from the fact that I have learned that being published takes time and writing from the heart matters, my writing was verified by a conversation I had the other day with a student. I am always curious about teaching and learning. As a result, I like to ask questions. I was chatting with a student and wondered about how this student felt about a certain initiative that was happening at school. I loved what this student had to say. The way this student articulated their thoughts, beliefs, and point of view resonated with my EdCan article. Who can they tell? Where does student voice go? Do we even ask?

Students have a lot to say and what they have to say can be insightful, thoughtful, and worthwhile listening too. At one level, we have to give students “the space” to have their voice as critical thinkers and agents of their learning, but we have to take what was heard and take it to a different level. It’s an opportunity for reflection, professional development, or contribution to decision making. This is a power-shift, but also a paradigm shift. We need to give up a little power to empower students. Is this what we are hoping for, for students? Are we doing what it takes to make this happen for (and with) students? I wonder if we are aware of what students think and if we are tokenizing student voice. Students have something to say and getting their point of view is the best formative feedback education systems can receive. Are we prepared to listen? Ask yourself.

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