Archives For March 2016

Teaching that Guarentees LearningTeaching is not teaching without a sure grasp of what it means to learn. Or, at least, that’s what I’m learning.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about the torrential downpour of, “how to’’, “when to”, “10 things you must do”, “five things you should do.” […and the lists go on and on]

Whilst some of these lists are good, there is a limit to them. This includes the fact that they’re largely compiled by Westerners. Most contain a predominantly Western perspective built on tried and true concrete concepts about education.

These, however, are also haunted by a variety of legislating, and the enforcement of ever-changing approaches to education. (Some of which is thrown about by the ‘’revolutionary’’ whims and fads of a minority among the tenured academia, and which are, sometimes, to quickly approved by the approval ratings hungry, bureaucratic class.)

For those parenthesized reasons, it’s important to hear beyond the Westernized realm from time to time.

In his 2012 book ‘Teaching That Guarantees Learning’, Nigerian teacher, Dr. Obed Onwuegbu, writes:

‘Teachers are employed for three reasons. To set the goal, select and arrange factors and guide the learner to learn. The student can learn without the teacher if proper arrangement is in place.’[i]

For Onwuegbu, teaching is about the setting up of a learning environment. The teacher takes into account the form and content of the material, and then facilitates the way forward. This involves identifying primary “factors.” Then by enabling these primary factors, such as the learning environment and learning tools, an interest in learning is stimulated. Each factor or “method of delivery” plays a key role in empowering the student’s education.

Here Onwuegbu attempts an explanation:

‘Let me illustrate. Onwuegbu is my last name. Invariably Americans ask me to teach them how to pronounce it. Left on their own they say On-wu-eg-bu. Then they struggle but almost never succeed to say Onwu- egbu, because there are six instead of eight letters and two syllables instead of four in the name. That “struggle” from pronouncing four syllables On-wu-eg-bu to two syllables Onwu-egbu is what I refer to as process and only the learner can experience it.[ii]

By focusing on facilitating the primary factors that empower learning and moving to a facilitators position in the learning process, the teacher removes any chance of becoming an obstacle to the student’s learning experience. The responsibility to learn what is taught is then placed in the right order, first, on the learner and secondly, on the teacher.

Onwuegbu’s approach has weight.

‘The teacher arranges the factors before the learners walk into the classroom. Imbedded in the arrangement is the objective of the lesson. The teacher introduces the learner to the goal and the arrangement, i.e. how to achieve the goal before the learner interacts with the factors. At this stage, the student is present. He has been introduced to both the goal and the means of achieving it. The facilitator waits and watches to help. He reinforces or corrects. That is teaching. The result is learning.’[iii]

Instead of rushing towards progress at the expense of process, Onwuegbu places progress and process on the same line. Process is then placed before progress, whilst progress still rightly maintains a position of importance. In short, Onwu-egbu, if I’m reading him correctly, aims to bring teachers back to a place where “the means” are put back before “the end.”

This is akin to merchandising. The seller sets up a display. In retail jargon it’s what’s called a “silent” salesman. From there the customer learns about the product both with and without the sales staff. This invokes a learning experience whereby the customer gets an hands-on, up close and personal encounter with the product in the context ascribed to it by its producer. The display is designed to create interest and interaction.

According to Onwu-egbu,

‘Identifying the factor per se is not enough. For example, it is not merely choosing a film or going to the library, but it is choosing the right film and books, and knowing what, how and when to use them. It is not going to the library alone, but knowing what section, books, topics, pages, questions and answers or even other materials the learners may need to facilitate learning.[iv]

In a similar way to a merchandiser, the teacher functions as a manager of the process and progress of a students learning. By dressing up the educational environment with exciting and interesting material the teacher has effectively merchandised the learning environment. Thus creating “silent educators” by which the student can meaningfully interact.

‘Whatever arrangement the teachers make must be finished before the students enter to interact with the factors. One arrangement takes about eighty to eighty-five percent of the teacher’s teaching time. The remaining fifteen to twenty percent of teaching time is used to reinforce and guide the students while they interact with the factors‘ [v]

What Onwuegbu isn’t advocating is the abdication of teacher responsibility or abolition of teachers.

What he is advocating is liberation from a sort of curriculum purgatory; a gulag. Where constrained creativity incites boredom; where meaning and purpose is easily lost. A place where  zero incentive is given and indifference is propagated en masse. “Silent educators” still require preparation; ground work, creativity, clear communication and reviews.  I.e.: direction, vision and management. The teacher is freed to teach. Not robotically, but dynamically. Exercising freedom in limitation, unchained from an empty and static routine.

Onwuegbu writes,

 ‘‘I know that teachers use films when they teach in the U.S.A. That is a luxury I did not have throughout my years as a student or teacher in Nigeria. I was lucky if I had a picture. My granddaughter in fifth grade complained about a film her class watched. It seemed the film babysat the class for the teacher […] For this arrangement to succeed, the lesson should last for more than the usual fifty minutes.[Then] the teacher introduces the lesson and plans for the students’ interaction […] A different arrangement should be made for every lesson. This is one of the reasons the current number of lessons per day must give way to a new time arrangement. There must be less number of lessons, and more time for every lesson. Time and tests will no longer control classroom activities.’ [vi]

I’m in agreement with Onwuegbu’s main theme about process and progress. I’m on board with his idea of teaching being about ‘facilitating the factors’. As for the other points he makes, I need a little longer to really think about them. For example what are the consequences of not having tests? Of restructuring grade tiers, and how do we avoid real-time restrictions if we’re to extend lesson times?

Overall, his research and experience gives wider credibility to the concept that the world is our classroom:

Since: ‘teaching did not start in schools.’

His conclusions are reassuring. Facilitating eliminates the temptation to see teachers and learning tools as baby sitters. The teacher still has to teach. As a facilitator the teacher or parent/s cannot escape his or her own leadership role in the learning process or the progress of the learner.

Teachers are an essential part of the interwoven fabric of factors. Onwuegbu’s idea that the function of a teacher, is that of a facilitator, has the potential to reform Western societies notion of what a teacher is and what a teacher does.

 ‘If there is one word, which describes learning, it is process. Hence, to teach is to enhance and facilitate that process. The teacher is the facilitator. The function of education is to do everything to promote the process.’[vii]

 

Source:

[i] Onwuegbu, O.I. 2012, Teaching that Guarantees Learning (Loc. 48-49) Kindle Ed.Loc. 825-827

[ii] Ibid, Loc. 775-782

[iii] Ibid, Loc.823-824

[iv] Ibid, Loc. 114-117

[v] Ibid, Loc. 201-204

[vi] Ibid, Loc. 251-252

[vii] Ibid, Loc. 48-49

In a letter, dated December 23, 1955, Barth sets out to (reluctantly) esteem one of his musical heroes for a newspaper. The letter speaks for itself, so there’s no real need for a deep exposition. The only thing that needs qualifying is the concluding statement by Barth, where he speaks figuratively of imagining angels worshiping with Bach, while at work, and then later Mozart, as they gathered together. Barth writes,

‘Mozart’s music is not, in contrast to that of Bach, a message, and not in contrast to that of Beethoven, a personal confession. He does not reveal in his music any doctrine and certainly not himself […]
Mozart does not wish to say anything: he just sings and sounds. Thus he does not force anything on the listener, does not demand that he make any decisions or take any positions; he simply leaves him free. Doubtless the enjoyment he gives begins with our accepting that […]
He thought of death daily, as his works plainly reveal. But he does not dwell on it unduly; he merely lets us discover it. Nor does  he will to proclaim the praise of God. he just does it – precisely in that humility in which he himself is, so to speak, only the instrument with which he allows is to hear what he hears: what surges at him from God’s creation, what rises in him, and must proceed from him […]
Mozart’s sacred music, too, is heard to originate in a region from which vantage point God and the world are certainly not to be judged identical, but which does allow the church and world (these are not to be interchanged) to be recognizable and recognized in their merely relative difference, in their ultimate togetherness: both emanating from God, both going back to God.[i]’

Out of necessity, I’ve redacted some of his letter to fit the 3:22 min instrumental. In doing so, I’ve stuck to Barth’s main theme: gratitude for Mozart. As it is, it’s neat and, I think, communicates well. Barth might not have been a musician, however, it’s clear from the melody and rhythm in his own writing, that he had the ear, heart and mind of one.

Can Karl Barth’s words to Mozart be put to music?

My tentative answer is, yes.


Source:

[i] Barth, K. 1956, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Wipf & Stock Publishers (pp.19-23) & (pp.37-40)

Music is my own.

Stand out quotes vary. Some grab us and cause us to say, “ah!” Then others come along and burn out as quickly as they were lit. Then there’s the ones which latch on to us. It gnaws at us and doesn’t let go.

Quotes like these have longevity. Often, they stand alone outside their context. Holding meaning without being drawn into the abstract; where the quote loses meaning, or worse, has it’s meaning misrepresented.

Writing these kinds of quotes down is always a good thing to do. They tend to be words in season or word given for a season to come. Words that aren’t kept in order to win arguments, but words encountered that sow deep encouragement. Words that change us. Words that build us. Words that multiply life and the significance of it.

Words exemplified by John Bunyan,

 

‘Do you the substance of my matter see.
Put by the curtains, look within my veil;
Turn up my metaphors, and do not fail:
There if you seek them such things to find,
As will be helpful to an honest mind.’

 

– (Pilgrims Progress, The Conclusion)

 

 


Lazy Fury

March 8, 2016 — 4 Comments

Do you, uh, haiku?

Lazy Fury Haiku 3

 


‘Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth
with his neighbour, for we are members one of another. Be angry but do not sin;
do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.
Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, so that
he may have something to share with anyone in need. let no corrupting
talk come out of your mouths, but only such as for building up,
as fits the occasions, that it may give grace to those who hear it.’
– (Ephesians, 4:25-29, ESV)

#makessense

Mist 1 RL2016River Mist header 1

Mist 2

Mist 3

Mist 4

 

Earlier this week, while doing an errand, we took a detour to check out some early morning fog lifting off the river. Spectacular doesn’t sum up the experience of watching the sun rise into this. As it’s light moved across the water, the mist shifted. Had we arrived earlier the fog would’ve been to thick to capture it.

Good inspiration for a song.

This weeks features include drums, classic organ, the POD HD400 and the Ibanez. I had layered a few other bits with a Wah rhythm, for more of a funk feel, but decided to keep it as simple as possible because of how much the layer of guitar work was doing already. I was also keen to have the bass guitar remain as clear as possible.

 

 


Music and images are my own.

 

Trending Exploitations

March 2, 2016 — 2 Comments

20151024_111239 bricks

There’s inelegance to this new ignorance,

                             The pompous promotion

                             of itself as intelligence;

         “Fall into line with self-interest”

                              Pride paraded as humanitarian deliverance.

The ones who dare to disagree,

           speak from worn, but true hearts

The ones that don’t,

            “Sigh”, make noises, raise fists and tweet        d[f]arts.

From pampered platforms these boasters repress.

Roasting their enemies over the dark,

                                     widening pit of “progress

Science manipulated, is fact concocted;

             the false substantiality

                                  of a contortion of reality.

Allegiances, that political commodity,

               is

brought and sold for approval and vain popularity.

Like sex, it sells and makes

                 “all experts [have-to] agree.”

Such is the trending exploitation

                                    of tolerance by a minority,

When finding outrage is all the rage,

                                                   Pride legislated spite

                                                   hijacks true civil rights .

                  Feelings over thought;

                  Appearances vs. deeds

Society remolded by neo-Stalinist greed.

         “Convert, pay lip service or pay the ultimate price.”

These new cultural laws;

                 create justified outlaws.

Responsible freedom and fair speech,

          locked up behind gates,

are sent to camps

                 both labelled bigoted and hate.

Yet, these bold political prisoners of war

continue to solemnly state,

                    nowhere in, tolerate,

                    is there the command, to celebrate.


(RL2016)