Ned, (Un)Flipping and Connecting

I was busy yesterday and missed Radio National Life Matters’ interview with Ned Manning.

The podcast has given me an opportunity to catch up with the interview.

I liked a quote from Bruce Elder’s review of Ned’s Playground Duty:

How do you define a good teacher? You won’t find the answer on a mark sheet, or in a league table, or on a roll of honour,” writes NedManning, a drama teacher at the Newtown High School of the Performing Arts. This is his honest and insightful account of the ordinary life of an ordinary teacher.

It is not A.S. Neill or John Dewey. It is the story of the challenges and rewards of a committed teacher. It is also an excellent account of teaching in NSW in the past 40 years the old Department of Education bonding system, the idealism of young teachers, the reality checks, the country town schools, the ubiquitous Gestetner machine, the nightmare that’s an uncontrollable year 9 class, the exhaustion of trying to bring order to unruly classes, the value of sport and the tyrannical librarian.

I liked a comment by Philip on the Life Matters’ page too:

Great Interview. I was taught by Ned in the late 70’s in Canberra and he was already an outstanding motivator for kids – despite obvious resistance for some of his methods from the other dinosaurs. Now I have my own kids in school I have often been in parent teacher interviews and thought “hmmm – I wish they were a bit more like Ned Manning”. I want my kids to have a lust for learning that starts at an early age and sets them up for life. I think Ned was able to work this way with his students. I know there are lots of good teachers out there but I can’t help thinking there are also a lot who start out enthusiastic but get beaten down by paperwork, Naplan pressures and petty politics. It does seem that so much of the focus is on where will the results be at testing time, instead of where will the kids be in 10 or 20 years. Is it any wonder that teachers also lose heart, let alone the kids struggling with motivation. Think I’ll send a copy of the book to my federal member……. I wish they were a bit more like Ned Manning.

This has sent me off thinking about pedagogy again!

Whilst I am off thinking I will be reflecting on Shelley Wright’s post about the flipped classroom. In her introduction, she observes:

A little over a year ago I wrote a post about the flipped classroom, why I loved it, and how I used it. I have to admit, the flip wasn’t the same economic and political entity then that it is now. And in some ways, I think that matters.

Here’s the thing. When I recently re-read the post, I didn’t disagree with anything I’d said. Yet my brief love affair with the flip has ended. It simply didn’t produce the tranformative learning experience I knew I wanted for my students .

When I wrote that post, I imagined the flip as a stepping stone to a fully realized inquiry/PBL classroom. And the flip’s gradual disappearance from our learning space hasn’t been a conscious decision: it’s simply a casualty of  our progression from a teacher-centred classroom to a student-centred one.

I imagine Shelley and Ned would have a great conversation about Shelley’s conclusion to her post:

I’ve learned that inquiry & PBL learning can be incredibly powerful in the hands of students. I would never teach any other way again.

When students own their learning, then deep, authentic, transformative things happen in a classroom. It has nothing to do with videos, or homework, or the latest fad in education. It has everything to do with who owns the learning.

For me, the question really is: who owns the learning in your classroom?

On my way to my busy Wednesday I heard news of Mary Retallack’s success as Rural Woman of the Year 2012. I liked the idea that Mary was going to use funds from the award to grow the Women in Wine network. There is an ABC interview with Mary here.

All three stories resonate with me. I am delighted that asynchronous resources have made it possible to catch up with Ned, Shelley and Mary.

Photo Credit

Bus Stop

(A surprising find in a wooded ravine along Riverton Road, Northampton County. On the ground at the rear of the bus was a crumpled No Trespassing sign.)

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