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Overcoming Professional Paralysis
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Technology has made it seem impossible for teachers to be able to comfortably engage teenagers, especially those in high school, in the active learning process within the classroom. In most cases, the students’ minds are occupied by social networking, internet, and text messages, which means that there is lack of concentration. In his book titled The Game of School: Why We All Play It, How It Hurts Kids and What It Will Take to Change It, Robert Fried (2005) has mentioned that sometimes, the game of school is infused with the daily practices so everyone begins to view everything as normal, this is what is known as getting stuck. Fried has contended that majority of students from the kindergarten school to graduate school are not engaged in their learning process; instead play the game of complying and getting by the system. Fried views this as great danger to the education system since it creates a shift in creativity and intellectual paralysis. However, he warns the readers not to blame either the students or the teachers who take part in the Game, but he calls for sound action instead. Authentic teaching, passion, and collaboration are important when applied by both teachers and students because they can help in liberating professional paralysis.
Authentic learning involves engagement in various activities. Fried (2005) argues that students and teachers must be relevant when engaging in the activity and acquiring deeper understanding that they can use in the learning process. He has created an ideal classroom whereby teachers and the textbooks do not predetermine meaning and knowledge, but rather surface from the teachers and student’s efforts. The teachers need to come up with new rights and through that, use their ideas to speak and conduct discussion in class. Fried (2005) believes that authentic learning should involve passion; it means that the teachers need to be passionate about teaching. They should be excited about the subjects they handle, the research they conduct, and they must be passionate when analyzing ther work.
The passionate teachers should be supported by their colleagues in order to achieve good performance (Pegler, 2011). For instance, veteran teachers encourage the new teachers while familiarizing them with the teaching strategies that can make them successful in classroom. Fried motivates the teachers who feel uninspired, paralyzed, and ineffective by their culture in school to be authentic by regaining back their passion. Nevertheless, honest reflection is paramount for their success. He has encouraged teachers to avoid seeing themselves as the victims of the school system; instead, through the advice they obtain from their colleagues, they must transform their profession to what they want to achieve. Through authentic learning, students and teachers will take ownership of the things they learn, which would make them motivated in education (Delpit, 1995). Whenever students feel empowered, they would automatically learn to control what they have learnt enabling them to learn successfully.
Collaboration is also a crucial learning skill that can be optimized whenever authentic learning has occurred. Students should be in a position to articulate whatever they know and learn to listen to the opinions and ideas of other people. Therefore, they should practice collaborative and cooperative learning strategies to enable them solidify everything they have practiced and learned for long-term basis (Fried, 2005). Carter Andrews encourages teachers while conducting a TED talk to take into consideration critical consciousness regarding culture and race in the learning process and teaching (TEDxtalks, 2014). Student curriculum and educator professional development can help strengthen the relationship between the teacher and the student. However, there should be a shift of focus to be able to close the gap to achieve equity and proper collaboration (TEDxtalks, 2014).
Olivia Fantini attacks the standardized method of testing, considering it to be the reason ESL students and the teachers are not supportive and collaborative (Walter, 2015). Teachers should not give up teaching; insttead, they should lend their voices to the students (Walter, 2015). However, Sugata Mitra (2013) believes that encouragement is the main key to proper collaboration between the teachers and the students to achieve success in learning. Proper learning can be achieved through self-organization. The most important thing to take note of is making learning occur instead of letting it happen (Mitra, 2013). Teachers should take the lead role of setting things in motion, after which they stand back and watch as the learning process takes place.
In Mike Rose readings, the two teachers who exemplified collaboration and authentic teaching addressed by Fried are Mr. Jack MacFarland and Mr. Mitropetros. For instance, Mr. MacFarland hurled the students into a deep end of academics, enabling them to learn more than they had anticipated was possible (Rose, 1995). He properly engaged the students through thorough reading on a daily basis, after which he gave them a quiz that would help them determine how much they have learnt. Mr. MacFarland collaborated with his students by rereading books together. Rose (1995) believes that his teacher was exceptional as he did everything possible to ensure that they achieved success. He ensured that all the students had developed in their English study. According to Fried (2005), teachers need to be relevant by engaging in various activities that would encourage the learning process and this is what Mr. MacFarland has achieved. He was a passionate teacher who loved what he was doing.
On the other hand, Mr. Mitropetros, despite being the manager of the parking lot, enabled Rose and his classmates to perform in English. Regardless of the fact that this teacher was not passionate about teaching English, he properly engaged his students in thorough reading. Rose (1995) noted that they would finish reading their texts early before the semester ended. It is something that shows how much Mr. Mitropetros was committed in his work as a teacher. He ensured that each student had a role to play in the reading process (Rose, 1995). This is what is considered as authentic learning because both the teacher and the students were involved in the learning process.