Personal Development Journals
City and Guilds 730 1 extracts

21 September 2000

I discovered, without surprise, that I am a reflective learner but this was only a couple of points above a theorist, which I am too. The problem with those tests is that you can see what they are driving at and the consequences of agreeing or disagreeing with questions at the margin. Some of these questions are debatable.

5 October 2000

I carried out my terrible teaching. This was an intended role play about barriers to communication in which I would play a dreadful teacher. Unfortunately, the first group, which was supposed to do a question and answer session, carried out a role play of a terrible teacher with a class. This might have negated what I had prepared for! So rather than play it daft (which I wasn't going to do anyway) or cover too much ground, I just went for a rather single minded "expert lecturer". What I did say was true about XML, HTML 4 and HTML 3.2 and lots of further detail woven into my gowned blackboard-and-chalk totally boring teaching (literally) to the blackboard writing part of a webpage header. I mercilessly ignored the "student" even when asking a question; I gave an impossible workload to read a thick book half way through, and to do with a text editor the lesson plan template (on this website), both in a week, threatening her over use of FrontPage, AOL Press or a helpful HTML 3.2 book. My one failure in this was my writing was legible. I was very pleased that it received such praise that it was "frightening" and that, "There was so much wrong with that I don't know where to start." Praise indeed. Incidentally, the group doing discussions was going to follow up this presentation, making its errors into a class discussion (and proceed with further issues), so they were put after us, but they didn't! Their presentation was autonomous.

The flip side to that terrible teaching was that I see myself in it. It was easy and enjoyable to do it. When in the past I have tried to make things simple and straightforward, I have been accused of being too expert and even too remote. So I was able to let rip this time, to see how it really was when remote. That was probably why it was so "frightening". The gown was given by an ex-congregational minister then Anglican priest for preaching before going to Unitarian College, and I rarely used it, partly because I had a green and gold one made which really would have set the place alight had I worn that. The real challenge, say in micro-teaching, would be to try and teach a little introduction to HTML successfully, although I suspect my already created lesson plan on writing a quote and bibliography might have more mileage. The HTML one would be far more challenging because it is far more difficult to do. It might be an idea to see how other tutors do Web page design, perhaps as an observation.

19 October 2000

A heavy focus on assessment methods. I have found this difficult to nail down and consider that questions and answers to be assessed probably need to be written down. I understand the logical empirical (empiricist?) stream from requirements to objectives to assessment, all reflecting back on each other.

This was a grinding session of pumping through a lot at once, and I shared with some others the thought that if we were clearer on entry level (my particular fault area) and assessment methods then work up to now might have been of a better standard.

Somehow I'd have preferred entry level and assessment methods earlier on, or at least before syllabuses and course outlines.

2 November 2000

Evaluation was the subject, being that kind which is about looking at one's own teaching as a professional. I learnt that this extends far and wide throughout the whole job description, although this course keeps it to the confines of actual teaching.

This raises the question of doing action plans. I am a person who keeps "to do" in my head normally, but I am expected to write down what I have to do. I am in fact deriving what I have to do mainly from the lesson plan, to find a suitable piece of text that can be reduced to a suitable quote and turn it into a worksheet and also to do this for a reference. So much to do, as well as suitably clear OHT's. And then I add to my woes because I would like to have it all on the Internet athough the design of this is good practice especially in the light of possible HTML teaching to come, where I would write the syllabus (and somehow have to retain its intellectual property).

A particular contribution was to raise the question of terminology. Here evaluation meant teacher evaluation, but having read the literature I understood it to mean something more qualitiative than assessment which is more quantitative. And so I made the argument that what is called assessment links in very well to the whole league tables and funding, syllabus and outlines (aims), lesson plans (objectives) and assessment, which meets the system, but is more an illusion of learning for that purpose than necessarily an evidence of actual learning which is more complex than this. This view drew some sympathy but was linked to an HE approach, but I have also taught in FE in what I might call in shorthand qualitiative areas. Quoting back to me NVQs and GNVQs is fine as they are made for assessment, but many of these can be regarded as psychomotor and my area is generally cognitive except for IT (and if I do Internet and web pages it will also involve the very qualitative area of art and design). My own microteaching will include space for variation within the students' work, although I am then carrying out assessment with a fairly tight marking scheme.

Further reflection.
Additional points of a more personal nature.
I realise that this course is about training, and fitting people to a system, but it makes for poorer teaching, I would argue, if critical education is sidelined in the pursuit of "success" within a training course, again as designed from above! It is simply my background and personality which leads me to start to ask what is going on here and what is not going on. This was also the reason why I produced an extra piece of work on psychological theories of learning, which for me was a revision of a course taken at the University of Manchester in 1989-90 and some small reference to these within the schools PGCE in 1991 to 1992.

Whilst the extra piece of work, and its reading, is ahead of requirements, it is my own summary of the work so far, on all the assignments, rather than just picking up on one. I realise the need to be systematic, but in every method there is always a motive and a theoretical base, and certainly a great deal of the more radical books of learning, and theories of learning that overlap with liberation theology for example, are opposed to this method. The art class of which I am a student probably does have a lesson plan each time, or most times, perhaps in the teacher's head if not on paper, and of course it can be argued that there are objectives and there are assessment methods, somewhere. But to say this renders these terms virtually meaningless, in that the students bring their own work most of the time and work on it, and talk with each other, and take time, and nothing is assessed other than at the margin on the spot and over a very long time. Is there real learning going on? Yes. But can it be measured? With difficulty, because it lies in all kinds of directions internal and external and perhaps hidden over weeks. It becomes almost irrelevant to apply what is an input and output method to this except at haphazard points. It is rather more to do with human values that are being expressed and developed and/ or a skill which is linked to personality.

What interests me is not necessarily this input leading to that reflected output, but are people learning to think critically or develop their skills and understanding. In some cases I do not think an input to output method of assessment is either relevant or at best workable. There is a difference between education and training - whilst admitting that one gives rise to the other - but an input-output assessment method useful for training may, but equally may not, be useful regarding a whole understanding of education. And to a large extent this is my reflection on all my assignments, based on long term reading, not just one about assessment in the course, because the course is about working from institutional system demands and finance to syllabus to aims to objectives in lesson plans to outputs assessed and meeting those institutional system demands and getting finance.