How stupid can one be! I am an old dog, and was never ready to enter the changing world. Although I knew learners had certain rights, I have never allowed them the freedom to practise those rights in my classroom. The reason for this, was that I never trusted them to understand the concept of "every right has a responsibility!" I was not prepared to negotiate or mediate any form of discipline with them. Same poor children!
What I have learned intensely over the last couple of weeks, is that CHAT has been promoted as a developmental theory, not only because it negotiates meaning through mediation, but because it influences qualitative changes in human praxis (Roth and Lee, 2007). I was guilty of not appreciating the social relationships that contributed to the activity system in my classroom. There was very little activity. Lessons were delivered on an "I talk and you listen" basis.
I have to admit that although I had all the tools at my disposal to create a positve learning environment whereby learners can negotiate and actively take part in the the learning process, I was not prepared to understand the impact or the advantages that activity, mediation, and the activity triangle as discussed by Roth and Lee, would have on my lessons (Roth and Lee, 2007).
Although all my students performed within the acceptable average of 65%, I think that they became unmotivated. They did what was required to pass! I do not think they were ever motivated to produce work with positive emotional capacity.
After giving my classes greater freedom in the learning process, I have now met new learners in my class. Young people that are way more motivated, young people that in any given time, place or situation, have a quick chat about a topic that we are currently covering in class.
Not only my learners became emotionally stronger, but I also experienced positive emotional growth which lead to a sense of "well being" and feeling good about myself. My learners have become active participants who collectively achieved the ultimate goal. Through colaborative learning and activity theory "new" learners were born. Learners that knew very little about one-another, and how everybody can achieve success collectively.
I have devoted one lesson to my students whereby I discussed the change in teaching and learning with them. Although this period was wasted on matterts that did not form part of the curriculum, I have achieved far more with this one lesson, than I have ever achieved as an educator over the last 28 years. My learners were ready to move to the next level. They have discovered that learning can be fun. I am also ready to take the next step - and that is to maintain this new social environment that I have created with the help of these younsters.
LONG LIVE CHAT!!!!!
Roth, W.M.& Lee, Y. 2007. Vygotsky's Neglected Legacy: Cultural -Historical Activity Theory. Review of Educational Research. June 2007, Vol.77, No2, pp 186-232.