On the twenty-year anniversary of the scholar lecture at the Physical Education Special Interest Group (SIG) invisible college (at the American Education Research Association (AERA) special meeting) four former scholars – Steve Silverman, Tom McKenzie, Mary O’Sullivan and David Kirk – explored the state of the field. The notion and the contribution of Sport Pedagogy were discussed from multiple perspectives and through multiple voices but my main take home messages were as follows. While we are an ever growing field with more active researchers than any time previously we have yet to find a means through which we can meaningful influence teaching and learning in physical education. Yes, there has been some fantastic work done and a classroom, school and regional level but fundamentally teachers are fairly keen on maintaining the status quo around practice. While others in the audience may have taken a different message home I was struck by our apparent inability, as a field, to find a forum through which we can engage in meaningful conversations with practitioners. I don’t think this is a unique problem to physical education but the practitioners I have talked to certainly don’t have the means, or in some cases the desire, to wade through research. Therefore I wonder how we go about mobilising the increasing bodies of knowledge that we are gathering and exploring so that we can have a meaningful and sustained impact of policy and practice in the field that everyone in the SIG is so passionate about? So I challenge myself – and you – to in the words of Ann Lieberman we need to “Get over the high status of research and the low status of practice” and ““help people get a hold on their practice.”
I was called a maverick the other day. Apparently I'd done something according to the motto that I most dearly cherish "It's better to seek forgiveness than to ask permission". Initially I was worried about being negatively branded a maverick, but then I looked it up in the dictionary and found various attempts to describe its origins. The one I liked the best was "valiant hero".
I think practitioners need to be mavericks - to heroically knock down the constraints on our practice - invalid assessment, traditional teacher centered approaches and ticking boxes in curriculum development that honour the Industrial Age of education.
This work, shared in blogs and other collaborative spaces, is the most important source of research because it happened yesterday, is reported today and acted on tomorrow. It doesn't need a publisher, a printer or sales. It is peer reviewed instantly. If it works and is valid and resonates with the the reader enough for them to engage in their own project, then it is doing it's job.
My point being researchers, perhaps, need to look at whether the institution (and dare I say industry) that is pedagogical research needs to evolve into something that modern teachers find value in. Maybe some pedagogical researchers need to become mavericks and heroically lead the field into a new era.
When I said "apparently I 'd done something" I should expand. I picked up a concept and ran with an idea, using my initiative. In the end the idea has produced, so I'm told, a well received resource. But I'd also perturbed some people by not following what they saw as the "accepted,right way to do it".
I think this is a major issue within education. Getting the latest research into practice & also using what is currently being done in education as part of research is an area that certainly needs development. As someone who tries to be innovative in practice I would greatly appreciate having support from members of a research institution to inform me within my practice to improve teaching and learning. It would be great to have support in looking at the effectiveness of various teaching strategies. I.e planning for use of and formalising the results of using handheld devices in lessons. I know from my conversations with @DrAshleyCasey that universities and schools are working in collaboration in his region to bridge the gap between research and practice. This collaboration between teachers and researchers-both working to improve teaching and learning whilst also gathering findings to share, is in my opinion an excellent strategy. A major issue with this model is the fact that it would be difficult for researchers to enter schools who are some distance away from universities. However with today's modern technology making communication easier, and video now easier to share via software such as Dropbox, collaboration between university based researchers and school based teachers should be possible. I would certainly appreciate having a research based individual to share ideas and work with. Having Ashley as a sounding board has certainly increased my view on the positive effect this collaboration could have.
The partnership between universities and schools is important and beneficial. For both involved, I agree that knoweldge is developed. For instance in my work with teachers I learn about how cooperative learning is applied in secondary school and its impact on teachers and students in order to share with other teachers but also for research. The teachers have also learnt from me and Ashley Casey but also by themselves - about the model, how they extend students learning within it, how to apply to different classes and many more.... I feel it is also important to break down perceptions of each other, we began this project by Ash & I introducding ourselves as previous teachers - we didnt position ourselves as experts who have superior knowledge- the teachers were also made well aware that they were experts themsleves, they know their students, how their students learn and how they teach in their schools.
Importantly, I think we need to consider what's next after these initial links have been made in order for innovation to evolve. I feel that it is not only a case of developing the links between researchers and teachers but also between teachers themselves in different schools and regions. There are probably more teachers than pedagogical researchers?? Moreover, doing something alone is harder than doing something when you have someone to bounce ideas off, someone to talk to or simply when you know someone else is in a similar boat. The teachers I am working with I will be encouraging them to develop other teachers use of the model but to also continue to develop thier innovative practice. I am sure Dylan that they would be happy to share ideas with you and learn about your innovative practice.
Although I agree that social media and technology provide good tools for communication/ sharing practice, and this is certainly something that I have found through facebook and twitter, there are many innovative teachers that dont engage with these tools of communication but are keen to learn about new ideas, models and to develop their practice. I feel we need to create communities of teachers linked to universities and encourage sharing and collaboration. Maybe it is more of a case of openning those lines of communication, breaking down perceptions of each other and with universities acting as a 'hub'????
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