Discussions

The beauty of debate

It has been a tough week for me as a new blogger. Suddenly, people disagree with me! I wasn’t expecting this. Up until now, the feedback on my blog has only been positive (to anyone who has ever praised it, thank you so much). I never posted anything that I thought was controversial, so to be criticised was a complete surprise and not a very nice one. I was sensitive to it at first. However, this blog has now been visited over 10,000 times! My readers come from all corners of the globe (108 different countries to be exact – very cool). Why should I expect all of these different teachers, from different backgrounds and teaching contexts, to agree with me? Being an educator is such an important job and one that is constantly evolving. We should, of course, continually question and debate ideas.

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One of my best friends from the UK was the first person to disagree with something on here. When I posted about becoming a Google Certified Educator, he congratulated me but argued that teaching with technology is not as important as I made it out to be. This sparked a very friendly debate because I totally disagreed with him. I listened to his reasons, and they were actually very justified. I still disagree with him, but for the first time I was considering a different perspective.

Another example came from the #NoTalkWC post (no talk to whole class). The post (inspired by Alice Keeler’s original idea) states that teaching is better differentiated and more personalised when we speak to individuals and small groups instead of the whole class. It argues against lecture-style teaching. Many people disagreed with this, arguing that whole class instruction is a perfectly-effective teaching style. One teacher dismissed it as ‘gimmicky’ and ‘what good teachers do anyway’. Alice Keeler holds it as an absolute. She never addresses her whole class (secondary students) at the same time. I totally get it and admire her for it! For me, it isn’t an absolute yet. I occasionally talk to the whole class, but I hold a mindset that tells me not to.

All day, messages have been going back and forth between me and a teacher on Reddit. This teacher disagrees with the Flipped Classroom model and we have different notions of what counts as low-level thinking. As I write this, I am expecting their reply. It’s a brilliant debate and another one that I am learning from!

All of the teachers mentioned above have these things in common: they debate in a friendly, professional manner because they care about their students and their students’ learning. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! I was wrong to react so sensitively. However, I also heard from one or two less friendly people. I ignored them completely, of course. This post is not about them.

In hindsight, I never really considered different perspectives when I posted things. I will from now on. We must remain open-minded towards other ideas and not get complacent. Just because I think something is good practice, even if people around me agree, these things are not absolute. How many approaches to teaching have stood the test of time? How many are accepted globally? I passionately disagreed with the teachers mentioned above, and they passionately disagreed with me. And that’s the beauty of it – passion! I hope that my future kids have teachers who debate about education outside of work!

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6 thoughts on “The beauty of debate

  1. HI Adam!

    I am really enjoying the discussion on your blog – very “PYP” with exchanges of ideas and opinions – what we are striving for in our classrooms. I think it all boils down to “best practice” and experience, knowing what to use when, why and with whom. Good teaching is all about using the practices that fit the situation and child in specific situations – being flexible and not getting “bogged down” in “one size fits all” dogma. This can happen to all new ideas, even very progressive ones too. I love technology and used it as much is possible – yet some children prefer the artistic “feel” of pen on paper and using their own drawings, that sort of thing. Teaching methodology are tools to learning – like the PYP classroom where choice is encouraged, teachers should be encouraged to use their experience to choose wisely and masterly from their “tool box” of skills and practices to create the most meaningful and effective learning experience for their class and for their individual students – and kids love variety too! Keep going from strength to strength – you are nurturing minds and inspiring you students to change the world – with that big idea in mind, how you get there suddenly becomes less in the spotlight.

    Like

    1. What a fantastic comment! Thank you for taking the time to write that. On a post that’s all about debating and disagreeing, ironically I agree with everything you said and couldn’t word it any better! Thank you!
      Adam

      Liked by 1 person

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