Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Finding your Own Image

Starting my journey on the Curriculum Innovation Team at AHS, we discussed constructivism. Mr. Hatak showcased this theory. Two beakers, one filled with red liquid, the other with blue, sat next to a red-dyed-looking sponge. He explained with quiet direction, "Write down your observations." We quietly did, with amazement. When he dippped the sponge into the red liquid, the sponge turned dark blue, yet squeezed out red liquid. Likewise, when he put the blue sponge into the blue liquid, the sponge turned red, yet drained blue. Hatek asked us to come up with our own explanation of how this ocurred. When we discussed it, he explained that this experiment "exceeded everything you know about sponges and liquids." We laughed knowing that was true.

This anticipatory set, not only peaked our interest, but it also created the essence of constructivism: allowing students to construct meaning. The teaching analogy that is used (regarding a sponge) is one that states that the student is the sponge; the teacher adds knowledge to soak the sponge. Instead, constructivism challenges teachers to step outside this role, giving guidance for students' own learning.

I love this idea; I too, had many teachers that fed us the "necessary" curriculum, without creating a life-long learner. I look into the beaker of red and blue seeing Hatek's reflection; I will strive to become the chemical, like the sponge, that challenges students' previous meaning and advocates for their learning. I want my students to find meaning, such as the face in the rock above, in their life. I want Odyssey, Canterbury Tales, and Anthem to have meaning beyond literary excellence. Find the "face" of learning in everything they do.