Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Power Teaching, part II--Exploration

When I discovered Power Teaching a week ago, something about it just didn't sit right. Everything seemed to align perfectly for the students, as I said in the post, they got many opportunities to speak aloud, do motions, and have repetition of concepts. The teacher seems to be at an advantage as well, staying in constant control of her class. But there was something wrong about the video clips I watched that I couldn't explain. After a few hours of not being able to put a name to what I was feeling, I wrote it off by saying, "Well, this method is too energy-intensive, anyway. I would never be able to pull it off in a class of my own."

I started my third semester of co-op yesterday, and part of my day was assigned to a first-grade class I had been in only a few times before. While I was there, the teacher had her children sit at the carpet and discuss a book they had read together the day before. The class was talkative and eventually the teacher had to send them back to their seats (still staying positive and not raising her voice) for being unruly. Despite my previous feelings, I couldn't help but think how well Power Teaching would have gone in that situation.

That caused me to rethink. Maybe Power Teaching isn't so bad; after all, I had given it a lot of praise. It was just curious to me. Perhaps it seemed too good to be true.

Today, browsing through education blogs, I read something about the "quest for knowledge," or some idealism like that, and wouldn't you know it, that's what Power Teaching is missing. Critical pedagogy, a four-letter-word in every public school teacher's mind, actually applies in this situation.

Upon more consideration, I've realized that Power Teaching is, in entirety, fact memorizing. The job of the teachers in the videos I posted last week is to explain. They are the ones standing at the front of the room, stating facts and waiting for them to be repeated back by 20 voices in unison. The teachers teach, the students receive information, but little real "learning" is occurring. This is the essence of critical pedagogy. There is no praxis, learning by problem solving.

Power teaching, though seemingly useful as a form of classroom management, is not effective as a way of learning. With it, there is no exploration by anyone in the classroom, students or teacher. In any classroom, children should be free to consider what they are learning, why it matters, and if they fully understand it. This does not happen in a fast-paced power teaching classroom because the teacher has already moved on to the next thought of her lesson.