Community: The Soul of Learning?
Soul of learning?
Community is the soul of learning. Anything worth learning is situated in our consciousness as an artifact of who wrote, who said, who mediated that understanding (Grisham & Wosley, 2006). McCutcheon (1982) pushes the idea that complex thinking skills comes from the social interaction and the exploration of the environment and from the hidden curriculum. It is important to provide a collaborative learning environment that learners be allowed and encouraged to interact and give one another support with their language learning (Shin & Yang, 2008). Borko (2004) indicates that what we learn is defined by those with whom we are able to share and build that learning. In this case, Borko doesn’t consider the layers of difficulty any second-language learners or students with learning difficulties face. It is often the case in early immersion setting that due to the age in which children start school, they may not give assent to be part of a French Immersion program. In consequence, teachers have to strengthen the feeling of belonging on a social, academical and emotional level. Teachers act as leaders. Teachers have to find interests to build the community. They must be able to establish a community of learners in which inquiry is valued, and they must structure the learning experiences for that community (Remillard & Geist, 2002; Seago, 2004) while avoiding that genuine learning becomes a meaningless rite, rather than a rich opportunity to learn, to share, and to grow (Grisham & Wosley, 2006). To do this, they must understand the goals of the program and how the resource materials can be used to achieve these goals (Remillard & Geist, 2002; Seago, 2004). Remillard and Geist remain vague on what resources may look like for them.Since the term community of practice has been defined by Wenger (2003) as a group of people who shares an interest in a domain of human endeavour and who engages in a process of collective learning that creates bonds between them, is it necessary to add the construction of a community of learners in the curriculum? Is focussing in the academic goals of a program really inclusive of what a classroom community is and actually empowering all types of learners in order for them to become self-efficient?
Medias are projecting on our youth what an ideal idea of success is.
TV sends the messages to everyone, and the success of Donald Trump, Pete Rose, Henry Kravis, and George Steinbrenner makes them potent role models, whatever their values (Zancanella, 1994).
Schools can and should lead, but when they confront a society that in every instance tells a story exactly opposite to the one they are supposed to be teaching, their job become impossible (Zancanella, 1994). Zancanella doesn’t offer much solution to the problem here and focusses on how medias are collaborating in the illiteracy of our youth, distancing himself from the role of the teacher as a leader. Since educational research on community is playing a leadership role in providing high-quality professional development for all teachers (Borko, 2004), we should look at what the role of the teacher may be within this community. The community's engagement with the activities that take place it in determines whether the community of practice is a rich one. Members of a community of practice value their membership and work hard to become more competent at the practice involved, and share important social relationships with other members. (Grisham & Wosley,2006). Grisham & Wosley (2006) are leading a good conversation therefore it is up to the reader to infer that the keyword community here includes the teacher it isn’t clear. Where Zancanella has a point is that the teacher is still seen as the authority figure. As a consequence, the students in the classes we observed made scarcely any decisions about their learning, even though many perceived themselves as doing so" (Goodlad, 1984). Goodlad (1984) emphasizes that teachers dominate the classroom discourse, out-talking students nearly three to one. This one-sided discourse structure silences students for most of the instructional time (Grisham & Wosley, 2006).
From Vygotsky (1934/1978) to Wertsch (1985), to more recent works on the value and essential nature of social interactions to learning, the message is that all knowledge is socially constructed (Gee, 2003). The instructional strategy is based on constructivist learning design and collaborative learning, which are considered to enhance language learning in a contextualized virtual reality. Learners are allowed to engage in personal, meaningful learning through collaboration and interaction (Shin & Yang, 2008). As Zancanella was mentioning, medias have a strong influence on our youth. Even if his article was written in 1994, Zancanella’s comment can still apply today.We could apply it to the internet, smart phones, iPads and social media as tools to communicate messages about popular cultures. Technology magnifies the power of popular culture. Students either are already competent at some forms of technology (e.g., electronic gaming) or they want to be. In either case, we wanted to harness it in service to motivation and academic engagement (Grisham & Wosley, 2006). Participants [Students] feel excited about the innovation the technology brings. However, students are still often disappointed by poor or unsuitable instructional design. To meet learners’ needs, elements such as fun, realistic situation, challenge, and a sense of community, goal-based scenarios, story-centered curriculum, and strategic interaction were applied to the instructional design. Authentic communicative situations are critical to successful language learning. The most effective way to learn a language is to participate in a community in which the target language is used to communicate in a real context (Shin & Yang, 2008). Shin & Yang aren’t clear about what a real context of learning is. They do go on to say that the virtual learning environment features are considered a support for knowledge construction, self- direction, immersion, interactivity, and education (Shin & Yang, 2008). These two quotes by Shing & Shang imply that the virtual classroom has no physical borders therefore it makes it a real context. So, is a classroom unauthentic because of its walls? In the social environment created in the electronic learning space of threaded discussion, students found a voice, developed perspectives, made meaningful predictions, connected the literature with other media, and established the motivation to read as only peers can (Grisham & Wosley, 2006). This illustrate how students may construct communities of learning that transcend the traditional teacher-driven discourse in classrooms. From the readings, the role of the students in this new learning community remain the same but the virtual communities keep the content academic yet progressive and personalized. It is surprising that in all of these articles, not a lot is said about the role of the teacher. Only Grisham & Wosley (2006), claim that the teachers act as models and that within virtual communities, they are encouraged to reply to student messages, to encourage student responses, to model good etiquette, and to instruct and to model the use of computers and softwares.
Education is going through a transformation. Its values and foundations are being shook. Lines are blurred. Rules are broken. Traditional practices are being questioned. What isn't being questioned is our connection to a community. Connecting classroom learning with community activities instills a sense of social awareness in students of any level, planting the seed for their active involvement within their own communities in the future (Chung & Ortiz, 2011).
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