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Think for yourself, your teacher might be wrong

CJ Westerberg, August 29, 2011 6:31 PM

shock.teacher-may-not-be-right.Bower.jpg

Editor's Note:  Joe Bower is a teacher we wish we have/had in our educational experience.  The headline above is a sign in his middle school classroom.  The following is a post by Joe which I hope many continue to read, in spite of a possible aversion to the word "dissent", since it was once associated with the concept of anarchy.  Too bad, because what it really means is . . . well, just read on . . .
Found the 1:15 to the 1:40 mark of this 2 minute video so right on - we've all been there in meetings or discussions . . . not just teachers. 
More links and bio below.
Riffs on this?   ---  C.J. Westerberg 

"In my classroom, learning is less
about winning or being right . . ."

"
If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

-Joe Bower

2 Minute Video Below
Via Big Think


by Joe Bower

Take a moment and watch this short video (below) of author Tim Harford (Kennedy), where
he discusses how leaders need to learn how to establish a working environment where
dissent is not only welcome but actively sought out.

The conclusion of Tim Harford's message is pretty powerful:

Seek dissent. It liberates the discussion.

The implications for education are many. As teachers, we have a responsibility to teach children to think for themselves, and that's why I proudly hang a sign in my classroom that says:

Think for yourself, your teacher might be wrong.

Regardless of our topic of the day, this sign often becomes a part of our discussions. I
actively encourage students to share their thoughts, and if too many of us are agreeable
too much of the time, I seek dissent. I challenge my students to find fault with the popular trends  - I push my students to troubleshoot and play devil's advocate. In my classroom, learning is less about winning or being right and more about thinking critically and creatively
in an attempt to make sense of the world.

For those who question why I focus so much on encouraging kids to express dissent
(after all, it might be said that many adults spend their life trying to coral compliance from adolescence) I remind them of what General Patton once said:

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking.

If we don't expect children to speak their minds and be honest, we run the risk of merely mandating optimism. In other words, sometimes when we ask for feedback, we really just
want praise - and if we really believe in real improvement and innovation, we have to avoid
this kind of pseudo-communication at all costs.

What's the best way to avoid this echo-chamber of obedience?

Seek dissent.
###

Published The Daily Riff June 17th, 2011 - orig. posted below.

Joe Bower is a middle school teacher in Alberta Canada.  You can check out his very popular blog for the love of learning,"  originally tagged "I haven't 'graded' in six years, yet I assess everyday," now tagged as "Teachers who blame students for being bored is the equivalent
of yelling at a hammer after you strike your own thumb."  About his sign
An intro to his bio: 

 
"I am not the same teacher I used to be. . ."

Other posts by Joe Bower:

The Day I Abolished Grading

The Unintended Consequences of Grading "Effort"
 

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It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
Leonardo da Vinci
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