When projects collide

It seems that my project for my independent study on reflective blogging with preservice science teachers is on a collision course with this class in Adult Education.  That would make sense, in that teacher educators are educating adults.  However, the science methods class seems to be a combination of pedagogy and andragogy.  The class meetings and syllabus are quite pedagogical.  However, what we expect preservice teachers to gain from the methods and planning courses will only come from their internal digestion and processing — self-reflection.  Theories of teaching are discussed in class while students observe their cooperating teachers in practical situations.  Preservice teachers are expected to reflect on their observations in the practicum.  They are expected to (1) make observations, (2) identify the underlying theories that may have governed what was observed, (3) form insights as to decisions they might have made themselves or how they might do things differently, and (4) implement change and evaluate it.  How reasonable is it to expect them to do this at this stage of their learning?

Good teaching involves a myriad of intertwined theories and potential interactions.  So I read the reflections these preservice teachers make.  I comment in their blogs in attempts to point out underlying theories to their observations or to ask questions about the “why” of what was observed.  And I watch to see what happens.

How is this project colliding with my “Academic Writing” project?  I have been thinking about my reflections on my own work.  I have been negligent in making connections of what I observe to theory, very similarly to the preservice teacher reflections I have been reading.  Where is the theory?  I started reading Chris Hart’s book on doing literature reviews.  This gives me a “how to” on how someone else did it, but this is not a theory per se.  Are my reflections supposed to evaluate how he did it compared to what I am learning while I do it?  How do I practice what I preach in terms of critical reflection?

So back to my preservice teacher example.  Do they know enough to identify underlying theory?  How much theory are they aware of?  Are they in the same position as me with my reflections on learning academic writing?    In Chris Hart’s book he talks about how he learned how to do a literature review.  He read lots of other people’s work and backwards engineered it.  Analyzed the work of others and broke it down into the basic elements.  Then, he wrote the book to help others to not have to do what he did. (Gee, that sounds familiar.)  Do my preservice teachers need a book on how to learn to teach?

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