20 Aug Insurgent Instruction – What is it?
This next series of posts will focus on a new a different approach to classroom teaching. More than an approach, it is a perspective…a philosophy of teaching and learning. This term “philosophy of education” has been bandied about far too much in the recent decades. However, for this approach and understanding to classroom instruction and authentic learning, the best term to couch it in is “philosophy of education.”
Before moving too far into an examination and explanation of insurgent instruction, certain assurances and parameters must be established. The term insurgent instruction is by no means a dig or slight to anyone remotely involved in the conflict which has been fought in the Middle East since the attacks on the Twin Towers by terrorists on September 11th. I am a military veteran who has had friends and currently has family members involved in the situation over there. I have the utmost respect for all of those involved in the military. I come from a long line of service members. They will always rank as a first among all in my book.
I chose the term insurgent instruction for one reason. It is the best way to describe the approach to helping our student learn. Public education has become bureaucracy. What was to be the great equalizer and opportunity for all students has become a factory mass producing test scores. No matter how many standards and revisions, tests and benchmarks, we cannot guarantee a student’s preparedness for college or life. Only good teaching can be any sort of guarantee.
This is what we have moved grossly away from in this age of high stakes testing. True enough that best practices and good teaching will always prevail regardless of the educational climate. However, as more and more classroom instructional days are taken up with testing, benchmarking, and test preparation, good teaching and best practices can only flourish in the few days allowed. And those grow less and less in number with each year.
Insurgent instruction is built on a few, time honored, research-based principles gathered together in a different way, and directed in a new projection. These principles include, menu driven activities, front loading the standards, capitalizing on teachable moments, and the teacher as guiding learner. It is also a practice which instills the students with a healthy dose of irreverent distrust of the system. In other words, the first order of business is to question all that is presented to you.
This questioning is a practice which maximizes the already rebellious, formative stage of development most students are at already. Yet, this is a guided rebelliousness. It is a questioning with a cause. This is not necessarily a new or inventive trick of the classroom. Yet, many teachers give up to their feelings of defeat when facing the seemingly insurmountable task of preparing students for these tests.
Insurgent instruction allows students and teachers to truly be partners in education. It allows for an organic and mutual relationship to develop through the act of learning. Insurgent instruction provides a way for students and teachers to work around the bulwarks by these well-meaning, but off-target actions and groups. It just may be the way around our current spate of educational good intentions until we come to our senses.
The following series will look at the ideas and actions of insurgent instruction. It will explore what it is, how to implement it, adapt it, and other essentials for the classroom teacher.