9 Year Olds in a Community of Practice
A brief break from the /GAT Project/ series, although this topic is highly relevant.
On Thursday afternoons I've been supervising groups of Year 4 students as they discover our school 3D virtual world environment, which we run with free Open Sim (*) software.
Before we go on, whatever you do, watch the video below before you leave this page!
It is hilarious, and instructive, to stand back and observe the way these little people are enticed by the environment, make their own discoveries, and then share the discoveries with each other. Different students become experts in different skills, and are sought out by the others. I don't teach them.
As I observed the incredible scene around me, I thought to myself: this pretty much sums it all up for me.
I quickly whipped out my phone and captured the scene on camera.
Listen to what the students are saying to each other (or screaming at each other!). Watch out hyper-engaged they are. You couldn't stop them from learning if you tried. They're unstoppable.
And notice how they're oblivious to my presence. I'm invisible. They don't notice I'm filming. They're not asking me questions. I'm irrelevant. I've done myself out of a job. They're teaching each other. Every students is a teaching-and-learning node:
Once we've witnessed this dynamic occur, once we've seen what's possible, how could we ever go back to a teacher-centric model of pedagogy? I'm going to show this video to everyone I meet from now on, and say "Do you see!? What more is there to say!?"
In teacher-centric model, the teacher sets the agenda, then requests that the students become complicit in that agenda.
In a learning-central model, the students bring the agenda, and become complicit in each other's learning. The so-called 'teacher' becomes complicit in the students' agendas.
(*) A collaborative 3d space, where each student has an avatar and can discover, communicate, and work together to build the world. Objects can be created, sculpted, sewn together, and programmed using code to behave in particular ways.