I just finished watching the season finale of Teen Wolf (and yes I know that possibly isn’t something I should be admitting) which has been a bit of a chaotic season. In all honesty I am not quite sure that I fully understand all that has happened during this season however I have sat and watched it. It kept me glued because of its unpredictability.
When looking at teaching and learning we emphasize the features which a so called “good” lesson should contain. It should be appropriately differentiated, it should develop 21st century skills, it should foster individual and collaborative learning, it should encourage resilience and develop character, it should include a global dimension, etc.
As we attempt to do these things this might encourage a formulaic approach. Working in some schools in the middle east I noticed a tendency for differentiation to have become almost synonymous with differentiated worksheets in some schools. In an attempt to meet the requirements a single approach had been identified, in this case a worksheet with easy and then extended questions.
It is possible that as we endeavor to improve through identifying the things which should be in lessons we remove some of the variability in lessons.
Thinking of my own school experiences I remember a number of unique events for those teachers who I consider to have been my best teachers. These events are remembered largely due to their uniqueness. I remember the English teacher who removed all the tables from the class and had us sitting in a circle, something that was very uncommon at the time. I remember the health and safety session in DT involving a rubber glove filled with tomato sauce and a bandsaw.
If we remove the variability will lessons be so engaging? In seeking to ensure all lessons contain the elements which we deem to be important will we end up delivering lessons which are largely the same and therefore not as engaging? Will the quest for systemic improvement lead to formulaic learning experiences which are un-engaging and the norm?
Ultimately if lessons are equated to a roll of a dice, we want to prevent students receiving a low score from their roll; a poor learning experience. Given this we want to try to ensure that each roll results in a higher score, better learning experience, however will rolling loaded dice ultimately result in negative results despite higher scores?