I was sent this video from Stepan Pruchnicky through Twitter wondering if there was an educational metaphor here. I responded to him with two tweets.
This is why I love twitter because I would not have found this video, (I don’t generally search out metronome videos!!), and I was not planning to engage in an educational, metaphorical reflection the other night, but I did so here is some more articulation (more than 140 characters)
You may look at this video as a glass is half empty sort of thing and see this as a representation of what the traditional classroom too often has to do. A classroom in which we encourage students, (perhaps even force them), to conform. You may even want to say that we get them in kindergarten as a bunch of individuals and the school system is to work that out of them and get them to all follow one standard rhythm: to fit in. I see this a lot with my son, (who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in the summer), as I find myself praying that he will fit in and not become marginalized for his differences. I understand the protective instinct here, and that this often comes from a good place, but my argument is that perhaps it is not always good. Perhaps the desire to get students to sit still, line up, put up their hands and become part of the “choir” instead of a “soloist” is more for the benefit of the people running the school. The teacher’s job is easier when it is quiet, the administration likes quiet halls and the mechanism of a school runs more officially when people fall into line.
The problem is that this will not serve the students that we are presently teaching. They will need a keen and practiced skill of creativity and the ironic thing is that they may be more prepared BEFORE going into school than they are AFTER because of this conditioning. This is what keeps me up at nights: the thought that continuing on with the way we have been going, is actually doing harm. Now I do think that all students need to learn the value of empathy and understanding that they are responsible for their own behaviour and that this behaviour impacts the people around them, but I think that we may have gone too far past that recently.
Now for the positive spin that one may take on this video.
I also tweeted that perhaps the key element to this video is that you may notice that the platform they are all sitting on is a flexible, moving surface. In fact if these metronomes would have been placed on a rigid structure, they never would have found common rhythm. So with that in mind the metaphor for the classroom is that for students to really find their rhythm, for them to get in tuned with each other there needs to be a flexible and responsive foundation. In fact, just like the metronomes, the foundation should be impacted and moved by the movements and ideas of those who sit upon it. The students’ ideas, passions and interests should shake the foundation of the classroom and change it so that all can fit in and get to a place where they can work together and be “in tune”.
An interesting argument and something I would love to hear some feedback and ideas on.