Unpacking personal pedagogy with a metaphor

Using a metaphor to unpack one’s personal pedagogy is another great strategy for awareness creation. It’s probably going to be a tricky method for me but, I’m giving it a shot 🙂

When I teach well, I am like a bus driver. Each of my passengers is on their own lifelong journey to build and share knowledge, and I am responsible for helping them reach just one point in that learning destination. The short trip that they take is an information literacy or library-related trip directly related to their study or research goals.

What they actually make of that journey is up to the passengers; how they choose to engage with me and with their fellow passengers and how they choose to engage with the other elements of our journey.

When they embark, I seek to offer my passengers a hospitable environment (Palmer 2007) through a genuine welcome and a commitment to a respectful, interactive, constructivist journey that induces regular laughs along the way. I hope that my passengers will engage with each other; my pedagogy is designed to encourage it. But, if an individual’s learning journey needs to be more solo than social, I attempt to respect and accommodate this as well. I am not the silent disengaged bus driver, but the bus driver who sees each passenger as an individual with their own goals, needs, personality, mood, attitude to the trip, etc.

Although our route is rather well defined, the stops are determined by the learners and how they respond to the session as it progresses.

The learning objectives, content and pedagogy define our route, and these are authentic to ensure that we are connected to the real world as we move through it. Our planned learning activities, and our interactions with these, are directly related to the real worlds of assignments, professional competencies and course-specific learning objectives set by examiners. As we travel, my passengers feel part of their world.

As I travel with my passengers, I engage with them and learn from them. I reflect during the journey and after it (Schon 1983). This is essential as the more I understand the learners, and the disciplines in which they operate, the more knowledge I have to help me improve journeys to come.

Our bus is not state of the art but I make every effort to appropriately incorporate the technology to which I have access. By incorporating technologies in the appropriate manner, I create opportunities for the journey to be more comfortable and engaging.

My passengers disembark satisfied with new relevant thinking tools and have had some of their entrenched information views and behaviours challenged in a useful way. They feel ready to take another journey with me, and their course examiners are also motivated to explore further information literacy journeys. I cut the bus’s engine feeling energised, a little wiser, and hopeful that the learners will approach me when they need help, or even come to another class or use another online resource some time.

Palmer, PJ 2007, The courage to teach: exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Schon, DA 1983, The reflective practitioner, Ashgate, London.


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