Thursday, July 12, 2007

Transformation: More Than Meets the Eye

Dr. Gini Shimabukuro’s reminder that “Catholic pedagogy calls educators to transform students” (Shimabukuro, 2007, B-1) might seem too obvious. After all, that is why we entered Catholic education, right?

Another obvious insight is that the responsibility for learning should not rest solely on the educator, especially if we are to shift our focus to “academic processes that will empower our students to interiorize their learning” (B-1). And that is probably the hardest thing to accept, that the most we can do is to create the most optimal conditions for student learning, for ultimately, the responsibility for learning rests on students, not teachers or schools.

But this does not absolve teachers and schools of their own respective responsibility, namely to, in turn, take responsibility for their learning. “We must simultaneously allow ourselves to be transformed [and]…shift our focus from teaching to learning” (Palmer from Shimabukuro, 2007, B-1). Indeed, taking responsibility for one’s own learning may be more difficult than relinquishing responsibility for the learning of another. In other words, it is easier to preach than to practice. This too should be obvious, right?

Another obvious insight is that “an effective curriculum development process hinges upon routine teacher reflection and dialogue among colleagues” (Shimabukuro, 2007, B-2), where teachers come together as true learning communities. Despite this call for teacher reflection and dialogue, I have heard and read many laments that teachers do not do enough of either. However, I have found that teachers will reflect and dialogue in their own way, usually around the water cooler or in a remote corner of the faculty lounge. I believe it is only human nature to reflect on our experiences and share those reflections with others through dialogue, or, in this case, gossip. Our goal, then, as school leaders, is to steer that reflection and dialogue through healthier channels that lead to the fulfillment of a school’s mission. In fact, healthy reflection and dialogue should be about just that, the school’s mission. Shouldn’t this also be obvious?

All of this might seem obvious, but it is funny how, when we get swept away by the currents of everyday school life, we become oblivious to the obvious. Perhaps what we need is not only a transformation of pedagogy but a transformation of perspective, one where we stay attuned to the obvious. When we do that—when we transform our perspectives—we might ironically find that there is more than meets the eye.

And so, to paraphrase one of my greatest teachers, Optimus Prime, I call on all educators: “Transform and roll out!”

1 comment:

Doug said...

Hi Galvin,

Your title is deceptive--almost as if there were robots in disguise.