I was not one of those children who, growing up, always wanted to be a teacher. I do not come from a family of teachers. I did not play “school.” In fact, truth be told, I hated school. I was the classic underachiever, doing what I could to get by, always taking the easy way out. Lazy. I copied my sister’s family history report (she was a year ahead of me in school) word-for-word, handed it in, and got a decent mark on it. That was enough for me.
How I ended up becoming a teacher is a whole other story, and though I developed the skills necessary to manage an instructionist classroom, I was frustrated most of my teaching career. Having said that, I find it sad that almost 50% of people going into the teaching profession today do not stay in it (The Alberta Teachers’ Association, 2013), because I think it is a really exciting time to be a teacher. (Notice I did not say easy.)
That is why, at this point in my life, when most people are thinking about slowing down and taking it easy, I have entered the PhD program, in the Learning Sciences specialization. People ask in surprise, Why? Are you crazy?
The introduction to The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, 2nd Edition, (2014) says it all. Editor R. Keith Sawyer describes the research that is being carried out in the interdisciplinary learning sciences, “to lay the groundwork for the schools of the future” (p. 3). He talks about how researchers from many disciplines, including psychology, education, computer science, anthropology and others are collaborating to develop new ways of thinking about learning. He also suggests that many people, including teachers, policy makers, and educational researchers are not aware of recent discoveries. He encourages giving the handbook a read by stating, “The purpose of the handbook is to build on the new science of learning by showing various stakeholders how to design innovative learning environments and classrooms” (p. 3).
At this point, I am just diving into the handbook, but in perusing the chapters, headings such as, Arguing to Learn, Arts Education and the Learning Sciences, Embodiment and Embodied Design, Complex Systems and the Learning Sciences, and Analyzing Collaboration have me excited to learn more about learning. Kind of ironic for someone who hated school.
Sawyer, R. K. (Ed.). (2014). The Cambridge handbook of the learning sciences. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
The Alberta Teachers’ Association. (2013). Teaching in the early years of practice: A five year longitudinal study. Retrieved from http://www.teachers.ab.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/ ATA/Publications/Research/Teaching%20in%20the%20Early%20Years%20of%20Practice%20(PD-86-19b).pdf