Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sharks or sponges

I use an analogy in my classes where I pose a scenario that classifies students as being sponges or sharks, both ocean dwelling creatures. Sponges dont' need many nutrients and so can be satisfied with the bits that wash through and settle on them. Sponges survive but in only certain parts of the ocean. Sharks have acute senses and actively pursue their food. I reckon that the students that thrive best in my classes, and for that matter most parts of the world, are like sharks and so I work to encourage shark like bahaviours. I guess it depends on what values you have mind to make the judgement of 'best' on.

Brian says

The trouble – one of the troubles – with calling education a "fundamental human right" is that it then becomes the obligation of others to educate you, and you can just sit there with your arms folded and wait for it to just be poured into you. Calling it a human right undermines the notion that education might be something which is best achieved by being actively pursued rather than merely poured into a passively open mouth.

He was commenting on the Zambian consititution.


  • At 10:12 pm, Anonymous Graham Wegner said…

    Some days I feel like I'm teaching at Sponge Primary School then. Quite often teachers are fighting a culture from home that has the kids sitting there saying, "You're the teacher, teach me, tell me how to behave, that's your responsibility." Of course, not all kids are like that, but encouraging shark like behaviour can be a difficult thing to achieve in some school settings. I recently had a parent sitting across from me, arms crossed, insisting that his son's motivation (or lack thereof) was my responsibility and that I need to "do my job properly."

  • At 8:10 am, Blogger Wara said…

    I hear you. There are people who have the same attitude about all sorts of things. It is a victim mentality - things are done to these people as far as they are concerned. I think that the shark like behaviours could be directly translated to entrepreneurial behaviours. It is hard to develop this in some students for sure. Some of the things that I do include:
    * gradually stepping back
    * making clear to students what i am trying to develop from the start
    * rewarding or acknowledging shark behaviour
    * asking what a shark would do

  • At 9:35 pm, Anonymous Graham Wegner said…

    Thanks for that clarification - spelling out what I want from the kids at the start of the year, or even at the start of a unit of work would help develop the shark like behaviours. I suppose another way of couching the entrepreneurial behaviour for parents who want their kids to be pandered to is use the term "using initiative". Even my cynical parent couldn't disagree that showing initiative isn't a desirable behaviour.

  • At 8:16 am, Blogger Wara said…

    Absolutely Graham, We are trying to develop independence and initiative is critical for this. This relates to various discussions about the importance of the pipe vs the content. Where students know how to get the information that they need when they need it and have developed discernment so that they can determine the usefulness and validity of the information they become independent of the 'education system'. They are empowered. We could say that teachers work to make themselves redundant so students don't need institutions to continue with their learning. Spoon feeding is a dependence promoting behaviour.


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