It's not about altruism

The more I work within a Thinking Environment, the more I appreciate the freedom it offers - not just for my students, but for me too.


The more I apply any of the 10 components in class, the happier I feel.

So whenever you hear me saying it's great for my students to learn with a Thinking Environment, I do it for their benefit, raise your eyebrow at me and ask "really?" Then I'll admit that, OK, it's as much about me as my students.


Imagine, you can share responsibility for learning outcomes with the people who are doing the actual job of learning. I don't mean sidestepping your part in pre-thinking and preparing for a lesson. I mean empowering your students to be directly involved in how they participate in their lessons. Why should I stick to a plan simply because I spent time and energy putting it together last night, out of context, alone at home, under the presumption that I know best what my learners need to be doing tomorrow?


Point in case: the other week, mid-lesson plan, we paused to think about the solutions each group had come up with. The students wanted to know what "The Answer" to the exercise was. (There wasn't one). I wondered aloud why they thought their answers were wrong. Most felt they couldn't have come up with the best analysis or used the "right" language.  So, we spontaneously agreed to do the exercise again as a single group. They had a choice of options: a) use a new video clip, b) choose one of the 4 each mini-group had analysed, c) Google a "Perfect Answer" from a "real" advertising agent. Collectively, they went for option b).


A brilliant opportunity to experience "Equality" in action - both teacher & students have equal ability to think about something - so I stepped out of the equation,  and gave space for the students to manage the analysis process themselves.  Between them, they demonstrated "Diversity" in the different ways they saw and interpreted the video clip.


Once their thoughts had been collected on the flip (by one of the students, who did a really good job of asking probing questions!), they had a pretty thorough analysis of the video. Could an advertising professional have done much better? Maybe. Did they feel they had taken apart the elements relevant to them? Yes. So back to the question, what was wrong with their initial answers? Nothing. How chuffed was I? Extremely! What an excellent feeling to end a lesson with - you see why I can't claim altruism in my job?          

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