As we head into Module Four of our PME 811 course, I continue to focus on my burning question of:
How do we keep our teaching innovative and creative? How do stay relevant and create programming that follows curriculum, teaches students the necessary skills and engages them with the material?
This past week, I read two readings on the history of education: The complexity of intellectual currents: Duncan McArthur and Ontario’s progressivist curriculum reforms by T.M. Christou and The history of education: State and the art at the turn of the century in Europe and North America by J. Herbst. While I will admit I was most fascinated with learning who Duncan McArthur actually was (besides having a Queen’s building named after him), I am always referring back to my burning question and how this course relates to it.
I started thinking about how McArthur was basically the person who brought education to what it is today. Having the freedom of choice and selecting electives, and trusting the teachers to bring creativity to the materials, etc. Then I thought about what Herbst said – that basically, no “major” changes/reforms are happening in education today. That the history of education is becoming somewhat lost and now falls under the umbrella of the history department instead of that of the education department.
My question is – how much freedom do college professors have? I feel I am currently surrounded by many elementary and secondary school teachers in this course, who are on a pretty fixed curriculum (please correct me if I’m wrong). So, I wonder if being in the post-secondary institution actually gives you MORE room for innovation and creativity?
Each year is a chance to reform in post-secondary education. I think of some of the programs or courses I have taken that experimented with teaching styles, class size, class style – each year with slight to major modifications. The material itself changed with the ebb and flow, and the demand of the industries. Ultimately, the professors did have a ton of flexibility in their material.
So, do we have it easier in the post-secondary? Or… is it much harder? It’s one thing to have all the flexibility, but I think it’s sometimes nice to have a bit of a mold. I think back to high school and how I longed to go to a school with uniforms. It’s not that I wanted to conform, it’s just that I wanted that simplicity of knowing what my outfit was that day. Is elementary and secondary school somewhat like that uniform in high school? You have the choice of pants or skirt, blouse or sweater – but ultimately you have a bit of a guide to follow?
I look forward to your thoughts!
Christou, T. M. (2012). The complexity of intellectual currents: Duncan McArthur and Ontario’s progressivist curriculum reforms. Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 49(5), 677–697. doi: 10.1080/00309230.2012.739181
Herbst, J. (1999). The history of education: State and the art at the turn of the century in Europe and North America. Paedegogia Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, 35(3), 737–747. doi: 10.1080/0030923990350308