Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Efficiency and Deep Learning Means Taking Time

Shella Zelenz
Shella Zelenz

I can’t even begin to tell you the number of times I have been interviewed and the moment I discuss the time I take to get to the root of the concerns of my students to ensure the highest outcomes and performance from them, the interviewer or current teacher (who is looking for a replacement) would immediately say “well there just isn’t time for that.” I wonder how their school year was any shorter than mine. They saw the videos of my students performing, which is why they were so interested in hiring me to begin with. They raved about me as I walked in the door. I couldn’t even believe the manner in which I was greeted in many of these interviews after seeing my CV and my videos (proof of work). Then the interview somehow made them really uncomfortable with my beliefs on how to achieve such results. It seems to me that the results aren’t sufficient. The means have to match their own beliefs in order for the results to be acceptable for them. I believe that if I reduced my methods to fit their beliefs, the results would not have been what they were so excited about when they met me. It is completely illogical.
In the corporate world, results are all that matter. There is no expected norm on how (although many follow similar paths). There are seminars that make thousands and thousands of dollars teaching people how to do things differently and people run in hoards to attend all excited and willing to spend every dime to learn more and improve their results. Why is that not the case in education? Why is there resistance when it comes to children? There is a huge disconnect here and no manner of interviewing could help the interviewers understand that because in my explaining it, they felt self-conscious of their choices and did not want to be put in a position to make themselves feel less than capable. Now THAT is the real issue and it is exactly the issue that the students have. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy which will never end and no manner of curriculum changes, gadgets or gimmicks will change this until the root of the issue is addressed. Guess what, that takes time.
You have to take the time or you may as well admit up front that you are wasting your time. Nothing worth doing is worth rushing. The entire purpose of education is to prepare a nation for the next societal management. If that isn’t important, I don’t know what is. This is why I am an avid supporter of democracy in the classroom. Democracy requires students to self-reflect on their own desires, their own experiences and how they impact one another. Self-reflection is how they uncover their own issues and can self-remedy, which creates a beautiful learning experience in self-control and self-motivation as well as responsibility to group.
Bad behavior ALWAYS comes from self-thoughts. Where do those thoughts come from?
I’ve spent a great deal of time researching and most importantly soul searching to discover the origination of our behaviors and reactions. What has been most amazing to me is that in discovering where the negative thoughts in my head came from, I am able to walk away from them completely. What I’ve learned is that once you realize that the thought that just beat you up in your head was never yours to begin with, there is no need to coddle or protect yourself because you aren’t injured in the first place. Once you recognize that and you see the way you respond to those thoughts, you can process why on earth you would feel that way and feel frustrated about it. In fact, that frustration is the KEY to the truth. Listen to it. It is telling you that the thought isn’t yours. Letting go of that thing that wasn’t yours in the first place includes letting go of all of the trained reactions to please that voice that wasn’t yours in the first place. What’s left – unbelievable happiness and peace, which puts you in a place to only do things that take the best care of you. In taking care of yourself, you choose things that will benefit you. I would certainly think that education would be considered a form of self-care. It’s in our instinct to learn. When we aren’t being self-punished (programmed from external influence) we crave learning. It does not have to be motivated externally.
The key to getting students to succeed is helping them find themselves again. Helping them to isolate where those negative feelings are coming from and why they are feeling that frustration. Once they know they have control over their own feelings, and that you are not another person there to put more harmful feelings into their heads, they bend over backwards to make the classroom experience absolute heaven for everyone. When that happens, amazing learning takes place and it takes a fraction of the time that most people spend “classroom managing.” Imagine if classroom management were no longer a desired skill. It doesn’t have to be. The only reason it is needed is because no one is willing to take the time to clean out their self-thought closets or help their students do the same.
~Shella Zelenz is the founder of Zelenz Education Consulting - a different kind of consulting. http://zelenz.com/

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Sheila. It sounds like a system in the grip of institutional idolatry - preserving the status quo becomes the highest priority. Idolatry is about clinging to illusions, and the people you describe are clinging to the illusion that what they are doing is effective. As you point out, the alternative would be very painful - who wants the admit to themselves that what they have been devoting themselves to is ineffective?
    As you suggest, this really is about changing institutional values. Having the right data is not enough to drive change. It is political, not as in elections, but as in having the power to influence and drive change.
    Greg Marcus


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