Progressive Discourse

Konrad Glogowski has written a pair of posts about how his relationship changed with his class through blogging. His class is a Grade 8 class, so about 14 years old. He notes, in his first post, that his class moved to a position where rather than him being seen peddling content, he was part of the community. He describes the way the students developed, to a point at which they

…became involved in what Carl Bereiter has termed “progressive discourse” (1994). Sharing, questioning, and revising of opinions helped students develop a strong understanding of the given topic. They were engaged in “intentional learning” (Scardamalia and Bereiter, 1994), an active, purposeful search for meaning. Consequently, the network of entries and ideas that emerged from this sense of engagement is based exclusively on socially constructed meaning

In the second post, Glogowski has had further thoughts and he tries to understand what was happening:

This proved to be very difficult because I did not want my students to know that I also had gaps in my knowledge and that, as an individual, I also wanted to spend some time reading and writing about topics that we were exploring – that I didn’t have all the answers.

It was difficult not because of my students (who, by the way, thought it was the most natural thing to do) but because I kept thinking that by engaging myself in the process of learning I was neglecting the class. I thought that it was irresponsible to read and post about the Potsdam Conference, for example, while my students worked (seemingly) unsupervised.

Most of the teaching that I do is final year undergraduate and Postgraduate, but there still seems to be the expectation that Glogowski alludes to at the start – that I have the content, and will deliver. So far we’ve really only had the MSc students blogging (and they tend to be more pro-active learners anyway) – but I’m hoping to start with the BSc students next semester.

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