This week’s readings and discussion on the inductive model of teaching and innovation in relation to Essential Academic Learning Requirements (EALRs) in the state of Washington seems to have polarized the class in many ways. Many teachers in our group seem to yearn for the chance or freedom to use inductive learning as created and developed by Hilda Taba (Dell’Olio), they feel stifled by curriculum documents, school districts, and above all EALRs. Others seem to think that the EALRs simply provide a guide that we can follow in order to teach the students. In fact, we can use inductive teaching techniques and ideas like those of Charlotte Mason’s to reach our students and ultimately reach those EALRs.
I struggle with the balance between these two viewpoints that seem to be emerging in our discussion group. As a teacher at a private school that attempts to stretch students beyond the “normal” limits in the classroom, I am given the autonomy to use innovative teaching models like those introduced by Taba. I spend a lot of time in my classroom emphasizing critical thinking, thus inductive teaching works very well for me. As Dell’Olio and Delk state in Models of Teaching, “During Inductive Model lessons, teachers can assess the quality of students’ critical thinking and then use this information to design additional lessons to further specific skills” (Dell’Olio, 170). Yet as a private school teacher, I get the sense from this group that I am lucky. I don’t get the same kind of scripted curriculum and pressure to conform to it that some other teachers seem to face. In this same idea, the EALRs cannot be our ultimate guiding force in the classroom. We must teach learning and critical thinking and then we will reach the EALRs. Charlotte Mason states: “Teachers deprecate their office when they do the work of learning for the child by preparing lessons that have been diluted, predigested, and are void of thought… meals of sawdust. The work of the teacher is secured in preparing lessons with ‘prophetic power of appeal and inspiration.’ The communion develops from mind to mind, and the teacher acts as guide, philosopher, and companion.” (Mason). In order to be these companions we cannot focus on that end goal of EALRs – we must use innovative teaching techniques as describes in this week’s reading in order to to inspire and prepare. It is essential.
Dell’Olio J.M.. & Donk. T. (2007). Models of Teaching: Connecting Student Learning with Standards. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.