Saturday, September 12, 2015

"We've always done it that way..."

 Photos today are from my archive - showing student teacher class projects, my teaching, churches, etc...

“But we have always done it that way!”  We all have traditions in our lives.  With our families, work, churches, and social groups we do things a certain way to produce a sense of security and comfort for people. Often the tradition is a way to connect with the past, with loved ones long gone, with other places and times.  Some families make a tradition around carving pumpkins every Halloween, decorating the Christmas tree just so, perhaps coloring Easter eggs.  A sure way to bring on a squabble in some households is to suggest changing the traditional foods of Christmas or Easter.  Foods can be a central  part of  tradition!

Communion table
Holding to tightly to tradition can also hold us back... you can think of traditional cultures that miss out on so much because they are locked to certain ways of doing things.  Such rigidity becomes very similar to superstitions - (Something 'bad' will happen if I change my way of doing things.)

Christmas Creche
Most churches are pretty set in their ways with regard to the order of service and the liturgies – they are “supposed to be’ in a certain order because ‘we have always done it that way. I have known church ministers to get complaints if he or she dared change the number of hymns to be sung on a Sunday....or had too many 'new' hymns. But many churches are progressive and looking for new ways of worship and service that better meet the needs of people today... 

Wall poster

What about projecting the events of the service rather than printing them into a bulletin?  In some church services in the midst of the sermon,  people may be invited to  form into groups of 3 or 4 and share ideas on a topic.  And then to share as a whole group. Ministers in some churches feel free to talk about  real world problems and take a stand.    “But we have always done it that way.” is alive and well in some churches but not all.   Some churches still look primarily inward  – if someone comes they can become part of the group if they accept the style and preferences of the church community – but other church communities are seeking to understand the needs and wants of the people living in their wider community, and finding ways to meet their needs.  Some churches are freely accepting into their communities gay, lesbian. or transgender individuals as individuals worthy of respect. Most denominations today accept women as ministers, and a growing number welcome capable gay individuals to be ministers of their churches,

A student project on ecosystem creation

Schools can be tradition bound big time, but the good ones are trying to identify problems and find ways that work better… “to heck with “but that’s the way we have always done it". For example; It is a well known fact that kids get tired during the day. what if you normally teach Calculus 6th period everyday when kids are most worn out… How about changing the order of the classes from week to week; so at times calculus would come first in the day and history last…
Do we recognize differences and respond to them... "There are lot of ways to be smart..."
Or suppose that instead of teaching Biology (and other subjects)  for one year,  the teaching of biology be spread throughout the whole education – grades 1 - 12, so that content can better match the growing maturity of the students?   (This is called a spiral curriculum.)  Suppose you teach kids to solve math problems by rote but they don't really understand why or how the math works.  The answer for this is the new “common core math” – the teacher I talk to love it…Kids really learn the math principle and how it is applied. Read more here:

Schematic diagram of human respiratory system to show "plumbing arrangement " students must diagram and write a paragraph explaining how it works
Suppose you work in a business where there are  certain systems for getting things done.  An invoice might go through 6 officers before the boss gives it his OK… Suppose in a fast food restaurant the order for hamburger, fries, and milk shake requires the focus of 3 people to prepare the food, and one to package and sell… Suppose you have an auto repair and have a system with having to go buy each part as it is needed - or ordering it from a distant supplier.  Would it be better to have anticipate common items and keep them supplied ... or does this require too much storage and bookkeeping to control what to order...  is there a more efficient way…?  Suppose that you come up with a way to streamline the process – Will it be met with score or a pay raise? Will you hear: “But we have always done it that way?”  Those businesses seeking to maximize profits are quicker than most other organizations to recognize a good idea – and try it.  It pays.

Project in  physics - Design a 'car' powered by two mouse traps - they have a distance 'race'  when turned in
Teaching Biology constantly put me in touch with new content and new methods.  The content of Biology continually changes and it takes effort to keep up... I learn new methods in workshops and dialoging with others. I don't think I could have stayed in teaching if I had been required to teach the same content and methods developed by others who didn't know my students.  I have run into the syllabus system with a cut and established program.  I call that a crystallized and dead curriculum. When I am learning and growing - trying new things my enthusiasm becomes contagious.  The very act of teaching a fixed curriculum would make me nothing more than a secretary not a creator trying to meet the needs of my students. 

Activity designed to help students think about the concept of pressure in 4 different ways

Can you imagine telling Picasso that he should follow the style of Rembrandt because “that’s the way we have always done art” or telling  Aaron Copeland that his style isn’t acceptable  because it doesn't sound like Bach?  The way of progress and growth is to try new things some succeed – and some fail .  Either way you learn and can more forward

End of class - All students must answer the 3 questions and turn in - gives feedback to teacher and to students

This is one thing I want to teach my student teachers  - Plan content carefully – go for teaching ‘concepts’ not ‘facts’ – Learn all you  can about the learning process – observe your students carefully to see what helps them to learn – create good learning activities – keep learning and growing in your teaching. 

Me myself I am a wild pony that doesn't much like to have a rope around my neck – I love to be able to experiment.