Eastern Integration

I’ve been reading a great deal lately about Jewish culture.  One of the most important aspects of ancient Judaism is the concept of Talmidim; the Japanese have a similar concept called uchi deshi,  which is still prevalent in Eastern culture.  This approach to teaching is much more like a traditional apprenticeship than a modern classroom. 

Student’s engaged in this type of learning literally work side-by-side those who have greater knowledge.  They learn through hands on experience, imitating someone who possesses the skills they want to acquire.  In this setting, learning is not so much about retaining data as it is about gaining essential wisdom for living.

And yet, while occasionally I write for, and with, my students, most of their literacy learning occurs outside of the classroom, on their own.  This is often true of technology and social media use as well.  I demonstrate a few tricks of the trade, and they are left to complete a project on their own. 

But now I’m wondering, what if my classroom became a place of apprenticeship in writing and technology, rather than a traditional classroom that dispenses facts and knowledge.   Instead of covering more, we cover less with greater depth. How would this change me? my students? my classroom? If part of the point of apprenticeship is learning essential wisdom for living, how critically important is this with the rise of social media, with all its benefits and caveats?

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About shelleywright

I love education & learning, which likely explains why I'm a teacher. My areas are ELA, Sr. sciences, and technology. My classroom is best described as a student-centred, tech embedded pbl/inquiry learning environment. I am currently a PhD student in the area of Curriculum and Instruction. My focus is play-based learning in high school, and it's impact on brain development.
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7 Responses to Eastern Integration

  1. Patricia Cone says:

    I like the idea of schools being a place of apprenticeship. Ideally that’s what they should be. Kids need mentors.

    At the risk of sounding negative, I would also like to add a caution. It seemed to me when I was teaching (I’m freshly retired) that when I went against the grain of what was expected there was a period of resistance on the part of the students; school was not what it was “supposed” to be. I’d like to read more from the people in this class about how one deals with shifts in student and public perceptions regarding what education “should” be.

  2. Lovely questions Shelley.

    Indeed, in my work with educators and people delivering community service I say that we have a responsibility to introduce technology in all its different forms to our students or clients – especially from marginalised or lower-socioeconomic communities because it increasingly is about inclusion. We are moving rapidly into the midst of the technological age and those without exposure and the skills and knowledge to use these tools will be further marginalised and excluded.

    Just look at the latest Horizon Report – that indicates every job from trades and cleaning work to CEO level roles have increased their reliance on new technologies. Those who do not get access are socially excluded and economically impacted by not being able to use technology.

    In Australia, where I do my work, increasingly people are realizing that self-directed learning as a concept fits well with new media technologies and digital tools because it equips the student with the ability to capture and reflect in new ways, it allows much broader networks than just the classroom and local community. It is exciting. And also very overwhelming.

    My tip – on this journey, don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. Work out what you want to deliver or who you’d like to connect with and use the best tools available. That might be twitter – it might be the telephone. It might be an online bideo on YouTube – it could be the chalkboard. The key is to continue to focus on the outcomes…and use them to explore the best methods of delivery.

  3. Alan Stange says:

    “… when I went against the grain of what was expected there was a period of resistance on the part of the students…”

    This is true. There are periods of adjustment to change. I remind myself that we have been teaching against the grain, no matter how customary traditional learning is, when we transform learning so it follows natural (and diverse) paths, resistance fades.

  4. I love this paragraph:

    Student’s engaged in this type of learning literally work side-by-side those who have greater knowledge. They learn through hands on experience, imitating someone who possesses the skills they want to acquire. In this setting, learning is not so much about retaining data as it is about gaining essential wisdom for living.

    Because it demonstrates exactly what we are doing here through the process Professor Courosa has set up.

    You ask some very insightful questions:

    But now I’m wondering, what if my classroom became a place of apprenticeship in writing and technology, rather than a traditional classroom that dispenses facts and knowledge. Instead of covering more, we cover less with greater depth. How would this change me? my students? my classroom?

    I think this type of classroom had been around for years, and just shows that it really isn’t solely about the technology. We can great mentor style environments with the tech, the beauty of social media is that it allows us to seek out and build a community of mentors on our own, anytime, anyplace. The creation of these mentor networks thus becomes a key skill to learn to help foster our own learning.

  5. Stephen Rahn says:

    I love your idea of transforming your classroom into a place of apprenticeship in writing and technology. How I wish I had teachers who thought that way when I was in school!

  6. ktenkely says:

    Apprenticeship is a truly lost art (along with discipleship). There is something so life changing about learning in this type of immersive environment. Not just learning content, but learning a way of life.

  7. One of the most refreshing ‘education’ focused blog posts — about the act of blogging about education — I’ve read in years. Common sense in the right way; provocative in another.

    The idea of self-motivating away from “this is an assignment” to “this is an apprenticeship” has value well beyond a single class or blogging assignment.

    And thanks for putting it in multiple cultural contexts. And not making this about tech, per se.

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