August 07, 2006

Process of becoming vs experience?

In response to this post, Charles Nelson asks
Perhaps you could explain more how using the phrase "process of becoming" informs your personal pedagogy more than the word "experience."

Not at this stage I couldn't. I'm still learning what the heck "process of becoming" means. Any suggestions?

One thing I learned from Britzman's book is that experience is not "given", but must be interpreted, through reflection or talking about it to someone else. It is thus only in hindsight that experience takes on meaning and value.

Another thing I learned was the danger of dualistic ways of thinking. Seeing things in terms of dichotomies seems to be something humans do a lot. Perhaps it's a kind of shortcut? However, dichotomies can preclude or blind one from further, creative, possibilities. In terms of Moodle, while my blog post might give the impression that I attributed a single meaning to my experience with Moodle, I think I realize that it's not just how Moodle is, but also my own perceptions of what a teacher is and should be (and do) that are ingredients in this mix. A colleague who is re-reading "Teaching as a subversive activity" pointed out to me that grading and giving points (one of the purposes I used Moodle for, and which I complained about for taking up too much time) is often used for coercion. He suggested giving everyone 100. But if my image of a teacher says that "a teacher keeps track of who has done what, and gives fair grades based on performance", then this "solution" will not help me.

1 comment:

Charles Nelson said...

Just a comment on this point:

"One thing I learned from Britzman's book is that experience is not "given", but must be interpreted, through reflection or talking about it to someone else. It is thus only in hindsight that experience takes on meaning and value."

Actually, although reflection is important, most of all that we do is unconscious. From the book "Engaging minds: Learning and teaching in a complex world" by Davis, Sumara, and Luce-Kapler:

"Consciousness appears to play very minor roles in choosing its foci and in making sense of things."

And I would add that we have been absorbing values and meaning from our families, communities, and environment from the time we were born. I haven't read the book but it seems odd to me to say that experience has no meaning or value without hindsight.