Minimally invasive education/MIE - Making connections with Elwyn Richardson
Another good influence and believer of authentic and non-standardized education introduced me to Elwyn Richardson. What I think is most striking is that the fantastic and motivating stories were written in the 1950s yet those of us using these ideas are considered to be 'innovative' and 'creative'. I am absolutely frustrated with the government's direction that is leading us away from Richardson's blissful, honest and authentic pedagogy. But, that aside, there is much to be gained from his reflections, insights, and beautiful examples of how he taught back in the day.
Where Richardson used the medium of Fine Art (pottery, lino and wood cutting)to create amazing language and mathematical experiences. I have found the same experiences using video. This is not intended for me to make the bold claim that 'I am like Richardson', but that it's not about what we are teaching but how we are teaching. Where Richardson thrived in a rural environment where children observed birds and animals and harvested clay, us urbanised, suburban, (post)modernised counterparts can achieve the same. It is my intention to find these parallels to show that we can all achieve authenticity whether we are in a rural environment, purpose built 21st Century environment, or traditional cellular classroom. The point Richardson makes is not that students learn best with birds and clay but that students learn best with things that are relevant and accessible to them.
One example he refers to is that his students were able to produce beautiful poetry and artworks about native birds and plants - but not from snakes. Why? They hadn't experienced snakes. This is in the same way that my students produced their best writing about how they felt about being robbed, but not so much in response to some arbitrary text in a standardised test.
For those who like the sound of Richardson, try this vid for starters.