I recently returned from the EurECA Conference in Vevey, Switzerland. Apart from the memorable setting, overlooking Lake Geneva and looking at the peaks of the Dents du Midi in the distance, and the practical theme – How should Christians teach? – I will remember it for the insights of David Smith, now teaching at Calvin College, Grand Rapids USA, as he spoke primarily on pedagogy. He suggested we stop using the word methodology and re establish the word pedagogy. Briefly, his argument was that methodology is rooted in a scientific method, that if we teach in a specific way then there would be certain predictable results, whereas pedagogy stems from a community of learners living close to and learning from the ‘master’.
As I sat listening and making notes I found myself really thinking about how to start my teaching at the beginning of the year and how to start units of work in a more interesting way. David’s assertion was that how we start has a big impact on pupils and it really impacts on how they will react to our course over the year. As I reflected on how to apply this at Trinity School I also began to think – but how can this be applied to on-line teaching?
I know that my present lessons are better than when I started with NorthStarUK but the speed of change in schools classrooms brought about by constantly improving IT facilities, interactive white boards, You Tube clips etc mean that we can’t sit back either.
We clearly do a good job in teaching our NorthStarUK students from the results over the years, but as a Christian teacher I still want to do better. My personal challenge from the conference is focussed on improving the start of courses, but that is only the beginning, I can’t let the rest of the course become predictable and in the eyes of the students ‘boring’. So it looks as if there is yet more work to do in the next few months.