Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Game bird study - Duckshooting season.

I am sick and tired of visiting schools and hearing principals tell me it is all about: assessment, success criteria, teachers' intentions, WALTS, best practice ( really fixed practice) feedback, feed forward, next steps teaching and now National Standards. All part of the same failing scientific management ideology of control and conformity. Worse still, all but a few creative schools have been sucked into all this 20th Century thinking. It seems to be repeated as some state imposed mantra of success, an educational rain dance, when the real problem is motivation or engagement - keeping the desire to learn alive. This is what teachers' should be keeping to the forefront of their minds. Duck shooting is on us - what is it all about? Why shoot ducks?

As teacher and principal I was always on the lookout for ideas to share with students, or teachers, to inspire learning because when learners are engaged then authentic literacy and numeracy have to be involved - and of course scientific and social science thinking and the creative arts.

All I see these days are teacher planned term long units across the school. So much for children's voice, autonomy, choice and potential. Drawn out boredom. Actually all I usually see is most of the day being spent on literacy and numeracy - bring back the language blocks or language experience!

Back to the ducks. A great mini study, a teachable moment -we used to call them one day wonders. The duck shooting season opens Friday 1st May.

What are students' first questions and prior ideas.

Why do we have a game bird shooting season?
What are game birds? Research species; groups or individuals could study one in particular.
What species are called game birds?
Where are the ducks,and other species, to be found?
What are the life cycles, habitats of such birds?
What are the shooting rules? What happens if the rules are broken? Who enforces the law?
What is the police advice about using guns?
What kind of guns are used.
When do shooter hunt? What is a duck shooting dog? What are decoys or maimais?
Has shooting anything to do with conservation and sustainability?

Students could undertake observational drawing of birds ( from photos) and use these drawings as visual research to draw, paint, crayon, some expressive scenes.

While drawing new questions might come to mind and also thoughts to be refined into poems.

A lot of potential learning from a few ducks!

Far more fun than repeating all those hollow technocratic educational catch phrases.

My advice - keep you mind open to anything that might inspire learning .

Forget about all your planned units -an 'emergent' curriculum is the curriculum of the 21stC -and it is the way we all learn.

Our focus ought to be on widening our (and our students) areas of interest. John Dewey trumps John Hattie and the other ivory tower academics, all those formulaic literacy and numeracy contracts, the 20th century obsession with measurement, and the Ministry technocrats.

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