Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Life as Educational Theory [TE 818 Interlude]

The saga continues.

This course reading was a struggle for me. The writing likewise. I finally haphazardly decided to sit down and just type out the first words that came to mind (see line one above). I chuckled to myself when I realized that phrase may be the central idea of the excerpt.

My Story is My Living Educational Theory is a chapter exploring the themes of narrative, power, research, and policy. I believe my difficulty in reading and processing the text in part stems back to an assigned book in my first college class exploring the notion of “my life as a story.” It was a negative academic experience for me. The topic makes me...queasy? Maybe it’s because I seek to be more self forgetful (which doesn’t come naturally) and yet there is tension with the potentially misquoted “we do not learn from experience... we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big story guy. Every semester for years I discussed the idea of presentations as storytelling through Ignite Talks and the technology evolution of storytelling in the educational technology class I taught. I watch my kids read the Brambly Hedge stories and then live out the narratives for themselves while they explore the “High Hills,” build houses out of driftwood, and “gather for winter” while playing at the beach. I am a big fan of viewing the Bible as a single unified story.

So what at first glance would be a reading in my wheelhouse turned out to be a slog. Regardless, here is an inexcusably late attempt to briefly analyze with two main ideas.

The realms of educational research, educational policy making, and the daily stories of education experiences should talk to each other more.

Defining cultural norms, acceptable stories, and recognizing dominance and privilege in storytelling is a can of worms.

And a key quote from the middle of the reading: “To clarify, let me tell you a story.”

Yes, that’s a bit tongue in cheek.

With some help from our professors overview, I’ll add a final main point that I do have some traction with. Our upcoming task concerns how “your life expresses your own living educational theory.” This immediately resonates with me on a number of levels. I recall how in my project based learning mentors talked about the PBL process as something that isn’t just “school,” but really a way of living and thinking. I think of my current quarantine project of rewiring my 100 year old house as an example of lifelong learning (ask me about hot and neutral wires, voltage fluctuation, Ohms Law, and bus bars!). A webinar with West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum earlier today led to self reflection about the triple bottom line as an educational theory.

Suffice to say, My Story is My Living Educational Theory was not an enjoyable read for me, but still put a stone in my shoe.

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