ZPD rears its ugly head and thoughts on role reversal

October 7, 2007

ZPD says that teachers should produce situations that ask students to take steps toward new learning. Students working at the ZPD are working partly in the area that they know and the area of learning that is unknown to them. This excursion into the unknown often causes distress and  uneasy feelings for a lot of learners.

When I began teaching I participated in workshops that instructed teachers  how to teach via inquiry learning. The workshops instruction was designed  to instruct teachers how to design inquiry by actually doing an inquiry lessons designed for high school science students. I remember how frustrated and uneasy I felt participating in that  ARSI activity.

I also recall how my classes revolted when I began teaching with an inquiry method. Students would get visibly upset and did not like inquiry when initially exposed to inquiry and why would they when all of their other classes are taught in a traditional manner.

But the wonderful thing that I discovered after teaching with inquiry was that eventually the students preferred my “exploration labs” as I called them, to other days of instruction. Once the students bought in to the idea that it is their job just to “mess around” with the materials and learn how they work instead of just filling in answers I really saw some meaning making taking place.

During my educ 685 class I have experienced that same feeling I had during my initial exposure to inquiry . This class has also thrown me off of my feet from time to time, I guess that I had gotten accustomed to being the stressor instead of the stressee;)

But I must also admit I have learned a lot of content from the class and learned the content in a really useful way since I made it fit in with my other learning.  I have also learned some insight into my teaching by acting as the learner instead of the instructor.

So this class may be acting as a reaffirmation that the best learning occurs when we are challenged, read as working in our zone pf ZPD working to add new knowledge to our existing notion of the world.

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