For this week’s post I would like to raise the question about the purpose of education, specifically the use of various pedagogies.
The thrust behind the post came about when I was asked by some instructors to observe a problem-based learning exercise (PBLE). Their goal, as I understood it then, was for me to peer-evaluate the PBLE. As we got underway, I found that I had shifted –or truthfully split – my focus between the PBLE and the instructors who were delivering the PBLE.
What struck me was the use of the term ‘PBL’ as a verb, i.e. PBL or don’t PBL this or that part of the exercise. This struck me as odd and interesting at the same time. What was even more interesting were the students who were just parroting back the term PBL back to the instructors. This wasn’t picked up initially by the staff until I pointed it out. What was also interesting was the students just used the PBL model pinned on the wall and did not think beyond this model.
PBL as I understand it is to help the students consolidate their current knowledge and develop an understanding of what they need to learn; and through self-directed learning identify how they could go about that learning. What was demonstrated was lecturing with bouts of activity by students.
At the end of the day I had a discussion with the staff and outlined how I felt they could change their delivery approach closer to the traditional PBL model. When they tried a more facilitative approach on the second day, there was a palpable change noted by me, but not by them.
Now, the purpose of this post is not to malign the instructors or their approach to their task, nor is it to doubt their dedication to their task or cause. What I do want to raise is whether educators see a new pedagogical approach and either just seize it as they understand it, or have it thrust upon them by management with little or any introduction to develop a deeper understanding of the pedagogy. I have been thinking about this a lot lately.
It seems that every week (okay I exaggerate) there seems to be a new idea or approach to teaching, and I wonder if they are new at all; whether they will enable better education; and whether they distract the instructional staff from the task of teaching. It seems to me that if an organisation requires it staff to adopt new pedagogical practices it should provide with more than a cursory introduction. This is not to say educational staff should not make their own enquiries – as these two have.
I also wonder if there is a need for new pedagogies, or are we trying to cope with changing generations. Generations who have a different expectation and approach to education?
What do you think? Let me know.