This week I read two articles on non-interventionist theories.
The first was Improving Students’ Interest in Learning: Some Positive Techniques by Leslie Leong. Leong is a tertiary teacher at Central Connecticut State University, so this piece was written with older students in mind. The article provided 12 techniques to promote interest in learning, but I found some of the advice a bit trite, such as ‘learn the students names’. It seemed to cater for those who wanted a broad brush-stroke checklist of things to do to be a ‘good’ teacher. It didn’t specifically address behaviour problems (surely less of a problem/a different kind of problem at tertiary institutes) or any theories, but in a secondary context relies on the idea that more interested, engaged learners means less behavioural problems.
The second article was Social and Emotional Learning Hikes Interest and Resiliency by Kathy Beland. Beland works at a high school in Maryland that implemented social and emotional learning (SEL). The program looks at social awareness, self-awareness, self-management, relationship building and responsible decision making. Explicitly teaching SEL skills through the English curriculum led to teachers finding that classes were faster paced, students were more prepared for and involved in class, and there was less off-task behaviour.
Through this weeks Education Foundation lecture, I have seen connections between SEL and adolescent brain development. During adolescence brains break down old neural pathways and build new ones, and students can have trouble with reasoning, decision making and impulse control, among others. Using SEL in the secondary classroom is one way that students can be taught these skills, helping their learning and behaviour.
Another point that interested me this week was ‘freedom to’ and freedom from’. One way of understanding it, is that ‘freedom to’ are the rights we all have as Australian citizens as well as those we share with all people (human rights). ‘Freedom from’ is our responsibility as citizens of Australia and the world to ensure that everyone has their rights protected, and that our actions are not preventing others from enjoying their freedoms. All students should have freedom to a culturally accessible education. My responsibility as a teacher is to ensure that I am providing my students freedom from a culturally homogeneous classroom environment and curriculum. I acknowledge there are lots of ways to understand freedom to and freedom from: this is just the one I am currently thinking about.
What other freedoms are my students and I entitled to?