My third week here at Unlimited continued on in the introspective vein. One very good thing that is coming from my experiences here is that I’m starting to find myself as a teacher. Of course, my first teaching practice was at Villa Maria Catholic All-Girls School which is as close to an antithesis of the Unlimited model as I can conceive. I certainly am getting a feel for what type of classroom I’d like to develop and what type of environment that my teaching needs to excell.
What I really like about the Unlimited paradigm is the aspect of personalism. It seems that the philosophy of this school attempts, by circumventing formal didactic structure, to increase the genuiness in the relationships between the students and the teachers and between students and other students. Based on my observation, I can’t say that this hasn’t been successful. There is a strong sense of community at this school which the students are very clearly a central part of. The uniqueness of the school philosophy seems to serve as a catalyst for interschool comraderie. Both the students and staff are here simply because they like what this school is about and there is a tangible sense of infatuation with the school’s special character.
The freedom with which the students are entrusted can sometimes appear as a double-edged sword. In my few weeks here I have seen students in this ‘high trust model’ achieve well beyond the norm and I’ve also witnessed (albeit involuntarily participated in) some incidents where students have neglected the self-management expected from them. It will be interesting to see over the next two weeks how the projects for this term start to finish off.
One strong example of negligence on the student’s behalf is with the classes I’ve helped Hugh Derham from Natcoll teach. He is the main teacher for these classes and I’ve been in the role of assistant. My function has been to try to direct the students on their visual portfolio they are exepcted to develop to meet a unit standard. From the first session I’ve noticed that the students have been off task and reluctant to show any interest in the project. Every class session seems to start with excuses as to why this or that student doesn’t have any work to show. Despite Hugh’s efforts to bend over backwards to make their task interesting it seems as if a begrudging attitude accompanies any display of effort by the students. The resoning behind this escapes me because some of these students seem to perform very well for me in other classes.
Meredith has been very generous and lets me teach her multimedia class on digital video production. I find this class quite enjoyable to teach because the students really open up their creativity with this sort of task. They are fully interested in anything I teach them that helps their video production skills. All students are working on a 2-3 minute mini-documentary on inner city Christchurch. I’ve heard some really interesting ideas from the students on how they will approach this project. We will view the final results next week so I’ll comment then.