The action research on Co-creating Conditions for Learning will focus on the paradox of teaching. Janice Fournier, Research Scientist at UW Information Technology at University of Washington and education consultant, eloquently states the crux of this paradox as:

In an era emphasizing accountability, standards, and coverage of the curriculum on a timetable, integrating improvisational activities in the classroom can be risky. By its nature, improvisation invites surprises and can quickly head in unexpected directions. Not knowing where such activities will lead, how can teachers ensure that they will be productive – that they will in fact help accomplish an instructional goal? This is the crux of the teaching paradox. Teachers who are expected to follow a standardized curriculum may be reluctant to experiment with activities that deviate from the book, with good reason. The skills needed to teach according to a prescribed format differ markedly from the skills needed to teach by attending to what arises in learners themselves. The latter requires joining with students in a fundamentally creative process – teachers who invite input from students must then find ways to take up their ideas and use them to chart a new, flexible path toward instructional goals.

[Fournier (2011). Productive Improvisation and Collective Creativity: Lessons from the Dance Studio. In K. Sawyer, (Ed.) Structure and Improvisation in Creative Teaching (p. 184). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.]

How do you do this dance of the teaching paradox? How do you dance in tension?

Share your views. At Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY come join us in a year long incubation process to make our practice of dancing with this paradox more explicit.

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