Sunday, 30 October 2016

Excellent questions

My students always astonish me.

When asked at the start of my latest term course "What is the one most important or interesting thing you want to learn?" my year 9 and 10 students came back to me with ideas like:
  • I would like to learn more about extremists who perform terrorism, what psychologically makes them think that is okay.
  • How did communism lose popularity among countries?
  • I would like to learn a bit more about what makes a healthy and well-structured economy, also maybe the business aspect of that too.
  • Which is more effective are economic isms or political isms in terms of benefit of the country?
  • I want to look at terrorism, and what views they have on political, social and economics - why they feel they have to use extreme measures for patriotism.
They also want to know about fascism, capitalism, communism, racism, sexism, and feminism.  All this in 80 minutes a week for effectively six weeks!

A little context - the course is called 'All the isms', and as part of our school focus on How Things Work I was planning to how some political and economic systems work. What I found after this first set of questions was that I had to add in a whole other focus, and now we are looking at ideologies as well.

We started yesterday with some of the political stuff; after an introduction from John Green with Crash Course World History - Capitalism and Socialism and Nikkim with Adam Smith vs. Karl Marx we had a discussion about how all of those things work, the political spectrum, and the realities of politics as compared to the ideologies. Then I asked if there were any questions.

And then one student blew me away by asking "Where do authoritarianism and liberalism fit into all of that?"

What an excellent question! Not only is it asking something really thoughtful, it is also showing how that student had processed all of the information beforehand, and become so engaged that he was looking for deeper meaning.

I LIKE this kind of teaching; where we are talking about stuff which is real and meaningful to students; where the naughty boy is so engaged that he is leading the discussion; where the learning is driven by the questions students ask, we all explore them together, and then we realise that there are no right answers.

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