Don’t flip out! Grab the tool box!

It is great to learn new ways to present learning to students but I believe flipping (although it has its merits) is not always the best method. I would rather see education change from a consumption of information to the apprenticeship of learning. This apprenticeship would teach the tools in the tool box (this may be done in an exploratory manner or flipped). Once the basics of the tools are established including rules and safety precautions. The students are then required to apply this foundation knowledge to the tool and demonstrate competencies in the possible use of it. George Couros wrote a post about the impact the “Flipped” classroom, and how it will not transform schools. His basic description of the Flipped classroom:

The idea of having students spend more time working in the classroom and connecting with the teacher, and having the content shared during a time where they can pause and watch the content at their own speed.

Although Flipped is great in theory there are some floors to the process. Teachers must become guide of learning and experiences. Teachers are the ones to share the Tool box and introduce the learners to appropriate “tool of the trade”.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Aivar Ruukel

“Thinking outside the square”, is a phrase we have all heard and used, but how many of us truly impress this on our students? How many classrooms share the basics information about something and then let the students explore and discover what they can about it?

CHALLENGE: Give a group of students an ambiguous object, maybe an old meat grinder, or a shoe horn. Ask them to hypothesise as to what the item is if you have students who know what the items are have them work on a different item or help with the suggestions about how this item might be used and how it’s purpose could change. This is the traditional model of “thinking outside the square”. Propose that in addition to these theories, students advertise the product, make a TV and printed advertisement. Present a ‘but wait there’s more…a set of steak knives!, in the shopping centre’ type demonstration of the item and see how many others were convinced.

Think about all of the Key Learning Areas the students would be using… Literacy/language, writing, public speaking, math -costings, video editing, desktop publishing, hypothesising (science), Humanities – the history of the item…and the list goes on.

Imaging a classroom where every student was working on their presentation using their chosen tool and media. Allow the students to choose the tools they use for their  project and be there as a guide to support them in their discovery and learning.

I have always held the philosophy that: “You only have complete knowledge when you can teach it to someone else“. In many cases this is true, but the majority of information anyone needs to know these days can be found either by using a search engine (i.e. Google), YouTube for a video demonstration, picture search or even seeking relevant information from social networks. In recent times I have come to revisit my philosophy and am now working under the idea that “Sound knowledge is developed through exploration and meaningful experiences“.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by BenSpark

Given the support and the time everyone can explore, discover and learn. The skills students are coming into schools with today are far broader than just a few years ago. They are now very connected even before they start Kindergarten. As teachers, it would be near impossible to keep ahead of all of our students in terms of technical knowledge and experiences. Thus, we must use the tool box of teaching in a different way. Rather than supplying the information and expecting to have it bounce back rebound style from our student’s when they have “learnt” it, we must provide key information and embrace their creative minds in making the discoveries and learning through their own processes. This may present more challenging to the teachers than the students as there would be no assessment schedule and no guiding boundaries, but this is what we are teaching our students unknown future where they will not only need to be problem solvers but problem finders. they will need to identify local or global issues and then develop strategies to solve them.

This proces of investigation and exploration lends itself to “flipping the classroom” just as equally as conventional “un-flipped”. The process seems to be less of a factor to the learning than the process by which the learning was achieved, and both take the onus off the teacher and puts it back on the learner.

Flipping the roles not the classroom.

How do you provide the tools for your students?

Are your students the investigators or the consumers of learning?


I would love to hear your thoughts, they are valuable to me and other readers...

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