Friday, July 02, 2010

Culture in Special Education - Objectivit

"Objectivity is highly valued in the low-context culture of Western professionalism, the assumption being that professionals are likely to diagnose and remediate more effectively when they are not emotionally involved with their clients and when the process is informed by a scientifically based and, therefore, objective body of knowledge that yields universal solutions. Indeed, the concept of objectivity itself is essentially Western." (p. 51)

I am struggling with what role objectivity plays in the life of an educator. The more I practice the more I think it does not belong. There is no way to do something so human as educate a child, really to find truth together with a child, and do it without putting your own heart in the game. All that objectivity serves to do is distance me from the subject and from the learner, and in my experience, increased distance does not help learning. This quote hit me hard because I have been deeply struggling with what true objectivity is, and this has been a core struggle. Then to think that the idea of objectivity might just be a cultural artifact from the scientific revolution shakes me up even more.

Here is why the struggle to define objectivity is important to a technology coordinator. We are asked to evaluate the one to one laptop program all the time. Currently numbers define educational success, but numbers do not tell the story. In some sense numbers are not objective. You have to come and visit. You have to talk with our teachers about the impact of technology on learning. You have to hear the stories of students creating their learning. Objectivity is a, "judgment based on observable phenomena and uninfluenced by emotions or personal prejudices" and as such seeks truth. We should make observations. We should allow those observation to shape us, in fact we have to because they become part of our experience. If we learn something from an observation we will not remain uninfluenced. It will be personal because learning is personal.

What I strive for in helping people understand the impact of technology on teaching and learning is understanding. I want them to learn from me and my wonderful colleagues. I do not really want them to have an objective opinion. I want them to to be impacted by experience and put their own imprint on me. Just like I want my students to explore their worlds and show me the great new things that they find.

Posted via email from Jim's posterous

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