w3/ Educational Climate

Ken Robinson is a great discovery for me, thanks #gedivt. I can resonate with his approach, especially his focus on the educational climate. Michael Wesch’s focus on creating an interactive space in the classroom is also in the line of Robinson’s observations: there is no such thing like “not cut out for school”. There are the right environments in which learning and growth is “evocated” or not the right ones. Life is inevitable. I agree with these statements wholeheartedly.

While describing his person-centered approach in psychotherapy, Carl Rogers describes a similar process, by referring to potato sprouts:

“I remember that in my boyhood, the bin in which we stored our winter’s supply of potatoes was in the basement, several feet below a small window. The conditions were unfavorable, but the potatoes would begin to sprout—pale white sprouts, so unlike the healthy green shoots they sent up when planted in the soil in the spring. But these sad, spindly sprouts would grow 2 or 3 feet in length as they reached toward the distant light of the window. The sprouts were, in their bizarre, futile growth, a sort of desperate expression of the directional tendency I have been describing. They would never become plants, never mature, never fulfill their real potential. But under the most adverse circumstances, they were striving to become. Life would not give up, even if it could not flourish. In dealing with clients whose lives have been terribly warped, in working with men and women on the back wards of state hospitals, I often think of those potato sprouts. So unfavorable have been the conditions in which these people have developed that their lives often seem abnormal, twisted, scarcely human. Yet, the directional tendency in them can be trusted. The clue to understanding their behavior is that they are striving, in the only ways that they perceive as available to them, to move toward growth, toward becoming. To healthy persons, the results may seem bizarre and futile, but they are life’s desperate attempt to become itself. This potent constructive tendency is an underlying basis of the person-centered approach.”

I believe what Rogers describe as the person centered approach in psychotherapy (characterized with three elements: unconditional positive regard, congruence, and empathy) can be applied to all sorts of interactions in our lives, including education. I never met with any student or teacher,, or person in general, who did not responded positively when they are approached with acceptance, genuineness, and understanding. Potatoes bring sprouts when there is no soil in which they can grow into their bests. Students get lost in social media, because the powerpoints they are “exposed” to do not form the fertile environment for them in which their physical, psychological, social, and systemic abilities can grow.

There was a great post-it among the post-its in a video we watched in class: “I can google it”. I think the beautiful trick in education is that exact point: to motivate the students to be interested in the material. In class, while talking about technology tools, it was mentioned that a student “honestly” saying that s/he was lost in facebook, at that time. Agreeing with the content perspective, I also think that thanks to the holding environment the instructor created in the class in which the students feel like “their experience matter”, the issue is solved. Not necessarily the content, the tools.. but the environment, itself.

In line with the assessment issue discussed in the class, I believe when the students experience the class as a safe enough environment in which they can reflect themselves freely in their authenticity, the standardized testing will not be perceived as a standardization at all. As Robinson already mentions, the issue is not really the standard facts or not. It would not make sense to ask students to write a 500-word essay on a “2+2=?” question. Yet, under the educational climate in which the students feel like their presence is important, the standard questions like 2+2 will just form the tiny steps toward their best selves, that I believe, is the ultimate aim of education.


Sept 4, 2015

2 thoughts on “w3/ Educational Climate

  1. G. Purdy

    Really appreciate you bringing up the point about googling things. To me this can actually be a powerful tool to help students learn about things they have no idea about. For many of us, what is the first thing that we do when we have no clue about a topic? I would say google, followed with a quick browse of Wikipedia to get a general idea of what is going on. It is not a secret that this is a great way to get your feet wet. I remember one class in which I asked a question about some material we were covering, waited my 20 seconds for them to respond and still got nothing. I followed this up with trying to lead them to an answer and again…nothing. Finally a student piped up that they really had no idea where to start. This was the perfect answer because it led into a great little tangent of group/class googling. Ended up being a way for us to learn the answer and for them to see my process when I don’t know something.

    1. yesim Post author

      Thank you so much for sharing this inspiring anecdote, Greg! Considering how difficult it is to wait for 20 seconds and still not getting the answer even at the second attempt, it could be quite easy for the instructor to just say the correct response, or say “Go and learn the response until the next class (that will possibly not going to happen for the most)”. I really liked your perseverance on the topic and encouragement for the students to activate their all possible resources for learning “here and now”. I believe, that mindful learning experience was a great takeaway for them.


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