Another dot in the blogosphere?

Different means to the same end

Posted on: August 30, 2021

Even a comedic game show like Taskmaster (YouTube channel) offers a reminder to educators.

Video source

The segment above featured the champions from previous series competing for the Taskmaster’s points. They had to figure out the combination code to reveal what was inside a locked case.

Each contestant used a different strategy. They relied on a shortcut, manual work, brain work, guess work, and physical violence. All arrived at the right answer.

What is the reminder for educators?

Much of teaching focuses narrowly on the safe or right answers. Teachers get there with methods established by collective experience. There is nothing wrong with that unless you realise this also prevents the exploration of other strategies.

The exploration of such alternative strategies can seem chaotic. They are often out of a teacher’s hands and are the work of students. But does it really matter if students find different means to the same end?

I am all for the scaffolding the learning of knowledge and skills with pedagogically sound and time-tested strategies. There is a reason why we call them academic disciplines.

But there is a reason why we call on people to think outside the box. For educators, this is the classroom box that does not take into account the wider world or the input of learners. If we do not learn to operate outside this box, we become unreasonable and disconnected taskmasters instead of facilitators of learning.

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