According to wikipedia, deschooling “refers to the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment, when the “school mindset” is eroded over time. Deschooling may refer to the time period it takes for children removed from school to adjust to learning in an unstructured environment.”
In this case it is the time for teachers to adjust to that unstructured, no bells environment where we don’t have to rush our thoughts in amongst catching a cup of tea while moderating an assessment, preparing a lesson and chasing up a missed attendance all at once. I should have been prepared for this to hit as Claire Amos had signalled it earlier in the year when she started as DP here in blog posts such as this and the other Leaders of Learning who started a week and a half before me had warned me I would hit this stage as well.
It is just such a foreign feeling for teachers to have the privilege of time to truly reflect, plan and think deeply that I was itching to rush a task along today and caught myself becoming frustrated with the (perceived) lack of progress. Today I have really struggled with deschooling and really taking the time the time to develop what are actually very important matters that deserve time.
As a group we are developing the Hobsonville Habits, which are the learner qualities we want our students (and us) to demonstrate. So today we were focusing on 1 habit at a time and writing ‘I statements’ that demonstrate that habit; such as for the habit of Contributive: I participate enthusiastically and with purpose; or for Reflective: I take time to critique my learning. Initially I looked at the list of 14 habits and thought righto, by the end of today we should be able to gather a first draft of I statements for all 14 habits. So, when after 1 1/2 hours we took a break for a coffee and we had drafts for 4 I was feeling ok but hoping that the process would speed up as we go. Then we spent an hour revisiting the 4 to clarify what had been written, blend statements into more refined sentences and separate out any statements that are useful but could belong to a few habits. The end outcome looked like this:
By this stage the statements were looking miles better but my frustration levels were bubbling over. I was able to recognise it eventually as my deschooling not being complete yet as I wanted to rush through and complete more. Yet, this is why we have been given 2 terms. To spend time developing what will be the crux of what we do at Hobsonville. These Hobsonville Habits deserve to have time spent on them. We don’t have to rush off to a class or moderate some assessments, we need to think deeply to ensure we get this right.
For once, time is a resource rather than a constraint. The realisation of this today was a major step in my deschooling.
Thanks for posting this Steve. I have dropped off blogging and Twitter over the last month or so as I have picked up some challenging part time work team teaching a group of seriously disengaged students at a “special Character” school in Christchurch. You remind me that it is good to blog and share and I will try to make time to blog about our course. I am currently in the process of trying to sell the idea of Gorilla Geography to our group (which I got from you) as we co-create our next unit of learning.
Anyway, my new school/learning environment is like being on another planet where students are the centre of everything in a very real way. Students (with guidance), navigate their own learning pathway by choosing their courses every 5 weeks, age is not a barrier to course selection and students are given more freedom and autonomy than one might think possible. I am being challenged by the notion that success may not look like NCEA credits – however, most of our group have come to a realisation that gaining NCEA literacy might be a good thing. I also find myself team teaching for the first time in a course that is all day every day (because that is the needs of this group of students). Whilst I could easily knock out a geography programme, that is not the needs of the students so I am in the middle of an English static image unit, whilst also doing some Adventure Based Learning unit standards, literacy core generics and at the same time trying to align with authentic learning contexts nominated by the students. Anyway, I am waffling. Main Point – I too am having to de-school and I am finding it pretty invigorating but also frightening. One of the quotes we have used with our group is something like “When we let go of who we are, we can become who we might be” (something like that). This school is one of the Earthquake affected schools that will merge next year (effectively close, join with a primary school and re-open with a new director, name and set of values. Your experiences are timely and relevant.
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