The best education prof I had in grad school was Dr. Fred Goodman. Once he told us once that if classrooms were open to public audiences, that we'd see teachers with clipboards, stop watches, and whistles; just like football coaches. I could completely relate. I thought how conscious I was of using every second of practice time as a basketball coach and how casually some teachers treated the first two or three weeks of school with "easing students in." We've all had teachers who spent large portions of class time telling us about how they spent the weekend or what they watched on television. Would they do this if the class had to perform under the lights on Friday, night? Probably not.
I think public performance should have a prominent place in best teaching practices. As I've noted in Why Blog?, expressing my opinions in a public forum serves to refine my thinking and even hold my feet to the fire of innovation. I've certainly found in teaching an AP course, that knowing the students' scores will be a matter of public record, has a way of focusing one's mind as a teacher. Last spring, I started to set up online exhibition spaces for some of my students' best work and submit these links to our school's online community newsletter. I joined the "Authentic Audiences" challenge based learning group at the ADE Summer Institute, last July, inspiring the title of this post and allowing me to get others' ideas about this topic. I'm absolutely convinced that schools should be aggressively seeking audiences for students.
But what to do in the mean time? Well, I've decided to drop it in the students' laps. My AP Government challenge based learning project requires them to identify an audience and to create an "authentic medium" for reaching it. Cop out or break through? I'll know in a couple of months and get back to you, then!
Flickr Creative Commons Photo of the Big House in Ann Arbor by jeffwilcox
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