Progressive educator and blogger Joe Bower reflects on his passion and motivation to challenge traditional schooling methods. To learn more about Joe Bower’s efforts, click here.
What drives and motivates your passion about education, your love of learning?
I am not the same teacher I used to be. When I started, I was very focused on power and control. I assigned loads of homework, dished out huge penalties for late assignments, assigned punishments for rule breaking behavior and averaged my marks to get a final grade. I did some of these things because I was trained to do so in university. However, most of these teaching strategies were being done mindlessly, and like a lot of teachers, I was simply teaching the way I was taught.
But instead of pulling the plug on what could have been a very short teaching career, I started to question the traditional pedagogy that I had so mindlessly adopted. I began asking questions that would challenge the status quo. For the last four years, I have worked to identify and remove those things that traditional schools have done for so long (and sometimes so mindlessly) such as grades, homework, incentive/reward programs, and punishments/consequences. I have done all this because I have become hyper-focused on what should always have been our ultimate goal: learning.
In order to remain focused on learning, my pedagogy is driven by two primary rules:
1. John Wooden and Jerome Bruner have taught me that students should experience their successes and failures not as reward and punishment but as information
2. Alfie Kohn has taught me that working with children rather than simply doing things to them is a far more effective and ethical way of interacting with children.
Do you have any role models or bloggers you follow?
I have a number of favourite authors, bloggers and speakers. Here are but a few of my select choices:
1. Alfie Kohn – www.alfiekohn.org The Schools Our Children Deserve and Punished by Rewards should be required reading for any teacher.
2. Sir Ken Robinson – www.sirkenrobinson.com The Element and Out of Our Minds are fantastic books
3. Yong Zhao – www.zhao.educ.msu.edu Catching Up or Leading the Way is a book all education reformers need to read.
4. Seth Godin – www.sethgodin.typepad.com Seth’s blog and books don’t necessarily focus just on education, but most of what he talks about is universal.
5. Aaron Eyler – www.synthesizingeducation.com Aaron is a classroom teacher who challenges the status quo.