In the article If Ideas were Fashion David Wong and Danah Henriksen look at teaching, education and learning in relation to fashionable ideas. Fashion is so engaging and stimulating for so many people because of the level of self we put into it. Fashion is so important to so many people because everyday we are projecting who we think we are to other people. From this article I took away the idea that we as educators should be creating projects and lessons in which our students can infuse their sense of ‘self’ into.
Within the International Baccalaureate (IB) program we teach using authentic inquiry. Once students are engaged or ‘buy in’ they are much more likely to learn, ask questions and make connections. Having student create work that reflects who they are (similar to fashion) will foster a higher level of interest. Allowing students to pick their own topics, direction, design and method of presentation gives students more ownership and creative control. Students will be more interested in their work as they are more invested in the whole educational process.
That being said there are times that I feel I cater too much to my students. I try so hard to allow for my inquiry to be student driven but there are certain things I do need to cover. For example, recently I was teaching BEDMAS in math class and had a very challenging time getting the students engaged. I had one student that informed me that they would like to “investigate area and perimeter as my family is moving into a new home and I want to make sure all of my bedroom furniture will fit”. I informed my student that of course it would be a wonderful idea to investigate that further but in class we will be looking at BEDMAS. At times I find it challenging to be sure I cover everything I need to accomplish and be sure that every student is engaged. This year I had a colleague who gave me the advice of “looking bigger picture, teach using concepts such as form, connection, function - this will help guide you away from getting lost in details”. This advice definitely helps, but I do still struggle with both sides.
References: Wong, D., Henriksen, D. (2008). If ideas were fashion. Counterpoints, Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education 338, 179-198.