HybridPod Episode 010 — Questioning Learning

Chris Friend with Amy Collier

You’re tuned to HybridPod: a show that presents conversations of Critical Digital Pedagogy, listening for ways to empower students and champion learning. It’s the aural side of Hybrid Pedagogy: a online, open-access journal of learning, teaching, and technology. I’m Chris Friend, from Saint Leo University.

In episode nine, I spoke with Janine DeBaise about her style of responsive teaching. It’s her answer to the idea of “best practices”. The trouble with best practices, according to Janine, is that they are created by someone else and said to be the unqualified “best” idea for everyone in any situation. Now when I put it that way, you might object, saying that I’m carrying the meaning to an absurd extreme. “Not every situation,” you might say. “Just the regular ones.” But think about learners for a minute. What’s going on in their minds? What do they want to learn about, and what importance does that learning hold in their lives right now? The answer will be different for everyone. Even in a lecture hall of medical students, they might want to understand the same material and pass the same exam, but the way they understand or remember that material will be different for each person. The associations they make among concepts will be distinctive. An oncologist and a pediatrician would take very different things away from the same session because they see things from different angles and with different interests. If you throw in personal background, previous learning experiences, and current life situations, those differences only increase.

So the idea of “best practices” is built on an assumption of standardization — standardized content, standardized delivery, and standardized humans. Those assumptions strip away the individuation and personal interest that drives us all to actually learn things for ourselves. If all we’re left with is standardization, the personal purpose is gone from learning, subordinated to the systemic purposes of cranking out more standardized, credentialed clones.

Before I go on overstating things again, let me introduce my guest for this episode, Amy Collier.

[Amy’s self-intro.]

Amy talks and writes a lot about the liminal state of working through something but not completely getting it yet. It’s that wonderful (or unsettling, depending on your view) time when you’re playing around with an idea and seeing how well it works in various situations without actually feeling like you really get what’s going on. You’re working on building your understanding and experience, but you’re not quite there yet. That feeling is what Amy and her colleague Jen Ross have taken to calling “not-yetness”, and it’s the idea I wanted to chat more with her about. Amy’s been friends with the folks from Hybrid Pedagogy for quite some time, and she presented one of the keynotes at Digital Pedagogy Lab Cairo in March 2016. In her talk, Amy presented not-yetness to a group of people interested in critical digital pedagogy. To me, the connection between not-yetness and critical digital pedagogy isn’t immediately obvious, so I asked Amy to start there and clarify how the ideas come together.

Amy Collier:        Critical pedagogy encourages us to ask questions about what we’re doing, to not make assumptions about things being best practices, to not just take ideas such as best practices to face value, to actually question, “Okay, well, best for whom, and best for what, and best really? Is that actually what we’re talking about?

Chris Friend:        Is that a thing?

Amy Collier:        Is that a thing? So yeah, I think that the notion of critical pedagogy and how it relates to not-yetness is in encouraging us to ask questions and to be comfortable with asking questions, to embrace not always needing to have clear answers and best practices in order for us to proceed forward. I find it fascinating a lot of people who come from faculty development, which I come from an experienced place. My academic background’s not in faculty development, but I’ve done faculty development for quite a few years.

There’s this tendency to kind of turn it into something formulaic, and honestly I think there’s a tendency to do that with pedagogy as well, is to say, well, “X plus X equals this or X plus Y equals this, and if you input those characteristics just like that, then you’ll, voila, have good pedagogy.” I think what critical pedagogy is about is questioning that mindset of saying, “Who and what gets privileged when we don’t ask the questions about inequities in education? Who and what gets privileged when we just take best practices at face value?” not-yetness I see as in a similar vein, an interest in embracing the discomfort of not knowing, not having everything be just ordered and perfectly best-practiced, if you will.

Chris Friend:        [laughs]

Amy Collier:        That to me is, I think, the connection. I’ll give you an example of how I think it’s played out in my personal thinking lately. When I was at the digital pedagogy lab at the American University in Cairo a few weeks ago, I spoke about the idea of learnification. I had been looking at some complexity theory from Gert Biesta, who has written a number of pieces that I’ve really appreciated, that’s helped kind of form my thinking. The most recent was a book called “The Beautiful Risk of Education.” What he talks about is that there’s been this movement over the last few decades in thinking — the words actually are a “paradigm shift” from teaching to learning — and the idea is to move from an instructivist model to a more constructivist model.

Again, when we take that at face value, we say, “Well, of course. Of course we want that. Of course we want to be more learner-centered. Of course we want to be more based around students’ experiences and responsive to student driving the meaning and the conversation.” All that student-learner-centered stuff we’re into. Yet at the same time, when we don’t ask the questions of, “Where did that come from?” and, “Why did we end up with a focus on learning the way we had?” what we miss is that learnification actually comes from a paradigm of kind of really individualizing education, putting it at the responsibility of the individual rather than kind of a community activity, taking away the relational context of faculty to student, that when you think about teaching has always kind of been there.

When you really only focus on learning, you start to kind of question that relationship. In fact, I would say that one of the trends that we’ve seen in educational technology is kind of a push to replace the teacher. I think that’s a natural progression of learnification, that when you only focus on learning as this individual activity that people do, and that’s what education really is, then you take away the relational aspect of teacher-to-learner and learner-to-teacher that is actually, I think, at the heart of what education is about.

So critical pedagogy and critical theory helps us to kind of pull back from that and say, “Okay, what’s really going on behind this learnification movement?” Yes, some of the things that it leads to have been positive developments, absolutely. I mean, I would hesitate to call the learnification movement a negative, but I think what it has been is its — because it’s so hard to argue with it, to say, “Well, what’s behind this?” it ends up leading to assumptions being made, different kinds of inequities being produced, the hiding of certain kinds of important questions like, “What is education for? For whom is education? Why do people go through it?”

It hides kind of the question of the value of education, because it just focuses on the learning. I think that shift is something we need to kind of question in us and talk more about, and again, I would just say, kind of encourages us to ask those questions as well.

Let me interrupt the interview real quick with a shameless plug. Amy just mentioned “hiding the question of the value of education.” That question is at the heart of a Call for Papers issued by Hybrid Pedagogy in December 2015. It’s an open call with rolling submission acceptance (in other words, no deadline), so if Amy got you thinking there, hop online and search for our CFP called “The Purpose of Education”. The link will also be in the episode transcript. Okay, enough of my advertisement. Let’s get back to the interview.

Chris Friend:        One of the things that you mentioned there was the personalization of learning being problematic because it’s forcing us to look only at the student as a product rather than the relation between the student and the instructor in the classroom that’s trying to work with the student, etc., or the other people that the student engages with during that process of learning.

While you were describing that, I was thinking of online courses that I’ve seen in a number of places where they’re specifically designed, basically scripted, so that every single student follows the exact same process and goes through the exact same hoops and does everything the same way so that the instructor can grade things in batches, and they’re expected to end up with same kinds of credentials at the end and pass the same kinds of tests at the end, and the most wonderful thing ever about online learning is that we can guarantee every student will have the exact same experience as every other student, because they are all going through the same process.

Can you talk to either why that’s bad or, what I’d love to hear, is like, “What can we do differently online with these institutions that are so reliant on the canned course? How can we open that up? How can we make that more for the learner rather than the learning?” if that’s a fair way of saying it.

Amy Collier:        That’s interesting. Yeah. I mean, I think I’d first say the canned model that you describe is largely incompatible with a lot of what I talk about, the notion of emergence, because in some ways emergence is not just about the individual. It’s about the ways in which people coming together to learn can produce a really unexpected set of outcomes that you couldn’t predict, you wouldn’t want to or be able to predict. The idea that all students should end up at the exact same point — you go from Point A to Point B — it very much drives a lot of the educational technology we see.

It very much drives the way our new management systems are created. At the same time, I would say it is completely counter to the notion of the learning community as a place of a lot of risk and a lot of uncertainty, and that that’s okay. The notion of not-yetness would tell us we should embrace that, we should appreciate that, about what happens in a learning community, but that just kind of flies in the face of these canned courses. The rigidity of those canned courses is really hard to work against, and I’d say, too, I think we’ll probably talk about learning outcomes later.

Chris Friend:        Talk about them now if you want to. [laughs]

Amy Collier:        [laughs] The rigidity of the way that we conceptualize learning outcomes, I would say in a similar way, restricts what’s possible, restricts and, I would say, takes away from that risky proposition that is education. So what Gert Biesta would say in his book “The Beautiful Risk of Education” is that education and the learning process is inherently a risky one, that the relationship that you create between you and a student when you are a teacher should be one where you and the student — or at least, you should strive to be — are all in in terms of risk, that you’re going with it in a way that both of you could walk away actually having gotten nothing out of it, but the risk, the potential reward in terms of that risk, is that what the student and you could take away from it is a true educational experience, the kind that takes you and that student to new places or new ways of thinking and new models of imitation or you name it in terms of what could come out of it.

Like I said, I think the rigidity of learning outcomes as we currently conceptualize them, I should say, and I think the underlying theme of learning outcomes, which is that learnification, and the rigidity of kind of canned courses, really just doesn’t really work. What it ends up doing, I think, is relegating an instructor to a role of almost like a grader, like an enhanced grader, because ultimately the role of the instructor…. Yes, you could say that some people would argue for the guide on the side, but I think what ends up happening is, with a canned course like that, you could have an instructor come in who had absolutely no decisions in the design of the course, no decisions in how students interact or engage, and really is only there to kind of answer questions and grade work.

That I think is a really, really sad kind of a relationship for an instructor to be in. What you can do in that framework I think is an interesting question and one that I’d love to keep exploring. One is, and I don’t know how politically okay this would be at a person’s institution, but to take students on field trips outside of the canned course, if you will, to take them to places like Twitter or open networks, to take them to blogs or you name it, places where public discourse is happening on the Web, places where communities are forming on the Web around topics of interest and showing them that, “Okay, so there’s that stuff in the course that somebody’s determined that you really need to know, but then there’s also the world out there where these conversations have meaning, have importance beyond this course.”

If you can connect students to that greater meaning, to that greater conversation, then maybe that can help to balance out some of the canniness of the course. The other thing I would say is it’s very likely that doing something like that is risky for an instructor institutionally, and I realize that a lot of instructors who teach these canned courses might be contingent, and so making a risky decision like that is tough. One way to try to do some of that differently without taking on as much risk might be to just take a different approach to the discussion forums.

My sense is that a lot of times these discussion forums are already pre-populated with questions, but maybe you could have a situation where you can be on the discussion forums, very active in reframing the conversation in an ongoing way, or to have what we used to call virtual office hours, which was where essentially what we would promise students was, “When you talk to us during this hour of the day or two hours of the day at different times of the week, we’re going to immediately respond, and we’re going to bring a response specific to you and the questions that you’re struggling with as a student.”

So it’s kind of like overdoing it on the presence piece to counteract the over-structuredness of the rest. So in some ways, I mean, I guess you could bring in perhaps guests that way too. You could bring the public into the private that way as well. It’s herculean effort in some ways to make that happen, and it’s a shame that that would have to happen, but that would at least be a start. I think then the conversations need to be happening on our campus about, “What exactly are we doing with these online courses that are structured this way?” I mean, I doubt for the most part that we would allow that to happen in a face-to-face way, and yet it’s somehow okay when you do it online.

That doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it’s a failure of understanding what the digital space provides, what it offers, what kinds of communities are available, what kinds of risks and rewards come with that space. So that would be my initial response to a situation like that. Certainly it’s my commitment at a place like Middlebury and at any institution that I work with to push back against the notion of canned courses like that.

Chris Friend:        You said that outcomes are a great way to kill learning, and outcomes are a great way to turn it into mechanized learning, and they’re awful the way we currently conceive of them.

Coming from one who exists in a place where a course has to have a grade at the end, or I teach freshmen, so I have to hand my students off to somebody else, those somebody elses expect me to be able to say, “Well, here’s where my students got in this class,” or they expect me to be able to point to a line in the course catalog that says, “This is what students do while they’re here. This is where they will be when they leave.” Can you say something about how a course with a better view of outcomes — your word for them was “beacons” — can exist in that sort of environment without relying on outcomes so much?

Amy Collier:        Yeah. I appreciate because I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum in terms of arguments for and against outcomes, and certainly I have said things in the past that have led people to believe I am anti-outcomes. I’m actually not. I’m not anti-outcomes. I problematize, as you said earlier, some of the underlying currents of what outcomes are intended to have us do rather than what they could be for us if we thought about them differently.

Again, I think this points back to this notion of learnification. What outcomes does is they de-risk the learning. They say, “Well, if we say, ‘This, this, this and this are our outcomes, we can measure directly against them,’ then it de-risks the possibility that students will end up in some other completely different place that we don’t know what to do with.” It de-risks how we can assess. It kind of takes away some of the variables.

That can be very appealing, but I think the underlying current of that is problematic. The accountability movement that lives under that is problematic. So I will say that I actually think learning outcomes can be incredibly helpful and not as reductive as they have been in other situations. I love what Gardner Campbell says. There’s this video that [phonetic] Andrew Cross put out last year about kind of, “How do we know when students are learning?” He talks about this idea of one of the big issues with learning outcomes is that we’ve almost made them too formulaic in even how they’re written, but yes, of how they’re conceived as well.

So he talks about how we take Bloom’s, and we essentially turn it into a sentence structure process. Insert, “Students will…”; insert actionable verb that you can measure; insert topic of course. Right? It becomes almost like a diagrammed sentence rather than an aspirational statement. So he talks about how he really pulls back and says, “In learning outcomes, we say that the term ‘understand,’ for a student to understand something, is not measurable, so we should never use the word ‘understand’ in a learning outcome.”

The notion of understanding and the relational qualities of understanding, the depth that can come into the idea of understanding, that understanding is probably never quite complete — understanding is ongoing and in some ways emerging and evolving — that makes the word “understand” actually quite appealing when you start talking about learning outcomes. If you can distance yourself a little bit away from, “I need to make a measurable learning outcome with those higher-order verbs that will show X, Y and Z,” and start kind of asking the question, “What is it that if my students were doing at the end of the semester, I would be tickled about, I would be giggly about, I would be shocked and excited and blown away? What would cause me to admire my students? What would cause me to wonder at their work?

Start there with your learning outcomes, and then write your learning outcomes. Another way to approach it — this comes from a book that I have kind of a love-hate relationship with, Ken Bain’s “What the Best College Teachers Do.” I kind of prickle at “best,” and it’s actually quite an interesting book, but one of the things he talks about is to have big questions. Right? What if your learning outcomes were actually big questions? At the end of this semester, students will ask themselves, “What’s the real meaning behind this sociological phenomenon?” They’ll be able to formulate a way in which they themselves respond to it.

Those kinds of learning outcomes are both inspirational and interesting rather than being reductive and incremental, I would say in some ways, to each other. So to me, that’s how I think about learning outcomes. I do see their value. I see the ways in which they can provide a roadmap to faculty and students. Where I prickle and get nervous is where we use them as kind of these dictatorial statements of, “All students end up at the same place on the same roadmap, taking the same exits, taking the same green lights, red lights, that kind of thing.”

I just don’t think that’s the way education works. It doesn’t account for all the capabilities that our students bring to the conversation. The fact that when we stop trying to predict where students will end up, what becomes unpredictable is incredible. What becomes unpredictable as a result of not predicting what students will do is the stuff that will just blow your mind. That’s what gets me really excited about teaching. That’s what I think learning outcomes are supposed to be about.

Chris Friend:        Let’s dwell on that for a minute, because I wanted to call you out on your use of words so far. You’ve used the word “risk” an awful lot, which is usually scary to folks who are on the tenure track, because we are trying to go for something that has zero risk, and we’re trying to eliminate risk from our careers, etc. You’ve used the word “discomfort” as a thing to dwell in intentionally. You’ve talked about uncertainty a number of times as being this goal to strive for, and now you just mentioned “unpredictable.”

So could you talk a bit about discomfort, risk, uncertainty, unpredictability, these sorts of words that normally are supposed to sound scary in an educational context, and yet you continue to use them as though they’re the ultimate goal of what we should be trying to achieve with our students in education, in life. How? How does that work?

Amy Collier:        Well, I guess that’s just how I think of education, right? I think that education is a series of risks. Any human endeavor has risk. Any relationship has risk. You could take this to a partner relationship, right, and say, “You can spend all of your time trying to de-risk a relationship with a partner, and what you’ll end up with is a pretty sad relationship that has no risk, but it also has no fire. It has no excitement. It has no joy in it.” I think the more willing we are to embrace risk, the greater the opportunity for joy and reward and fire and meaning that can be there.

Yes, the risk could potentially have negative implications, right? Like yes, you could take risks and not get your tenured position, right? At the same time though, I mean I think we always take risks when it comes to, say, our tenure packages. We just choose calculated risks. We try to focus on the things that we think will reap the greatest benefit in terms of our risk. I think that the uncertainty, the opportunity of education is that we walk away ready to engage with the world, because we haven’t gone into a sterile, predictable space and gotten some learning pumped into our heads and then are expected to walk out into the real world where risk is all around us, uncertainty is all around us. And we have to learn to cope and deal and not just survive but actually thrive in that kind of environment.

In some ways, I feel like education can be the space in which risk becomes something we learn how to participate in. Uncertainty becomes something we learn how to find a voice in. Unpredictability can be the place where we have a chance to experiment with how to operate in unpredictable situations, how to make the most of the unpredictable, how to find joy and excitement in unpredictable situations. To me, I guess that’s the connect I see, is that in some ways keeping things too rigid and sterile and protected can actually be counterproductive in terms of what education ends up preparing us for.

At this point in the interview, I wanted to highlight some of the happier words Amy had been using to discuss the draw of learning. Earlier, she had used terms like “wonder” and “joy” followed by “fire” for an idea. My favorite was when she talked about what students do that makes her “tickled” at the end of a course. Those are fun words, and I’m a huge fan of fun. So I asked her to expand on those thoughts.

Amy Collier:        I can see where people who teach in disciplines that have more kind of procedural approaches to their topic could find these notions of awe and wonder and tickledness to be kind of fanciful. I’m still kind of working through that. To me, in some ways, the question becomes, “Well, then what made you as a professional commit to topics that you did? What kept you going in math, that kept you exploring and studying and learning? What makes you excited about your discipline?”

Those are the kinds of things that you should kind of look for and create opportunities for with your students. That’s where the awe and the wonder…. I don’t know much about math, but there are things related to math that I wonder in awe about. Those are the kinds of things that I would say if you explore and you kind of make space for, that those could drive the tickledness, the joy, the fireness of the work that you do.

Chris Friend:        I’m sure you’re familiar with Dan Meyer, who does work with math stuff.

Amy Collier:        I am, yes.

Chris Friend:        Love his work. There’s one video he made for his classes one time that I don’t think I will ever forget. When we talk about the inherent curiosity behind math that makes kids worry about questions and such…

Amy Collier:        Yes.

Chris Friend:        Because this is a podcast, the hand gesture you just made I don’t think is the video I was thinking of, because I would have made this hand gesture instead. [laughs]

Amy Collier:        Oh! Oh, that one too.

Chris Friend:        So the video that I’m thinking of, Dan — I think he made it for middle school classes. It’s a pre-algebra or algebra class, something along those lines, and it’s so simple, and that’s why it’s amazing. He shows himself standing on a basketball court holding a basketball, aiming for a hoop. He launches the basketball and then stops the video, and the ball is halfway through its arc. You show that to anyone — anyone — and they immediately ask themselves, “Did he make it?”

Amy Collier:        Yeah.

Chris Friend:        That right there is the point, that he has presented his students with a scenario that has an inherent question built into it, and the students are dying until they find an answer. He’s able to sit back and say, “Yeah, good question. Figure it out.” Then they have to use math to get the answer to the question that they’ve created in their head. They’re compelled to. It’s amazing.

Amy Collier:        I agree. I totally agree. The video that I was referencing with my hand gesture I think actually precedes that one a little bit, which is where he had this kind of container of sorts that was clear, and then he put a hose in it, and he starts the timer, and the water starts to fill the container. Then that’s it. It stops. What I like about it is not only does it kind of create that sense of curiosity, but it also doesn’t determine the question that students should ask, right? The question could be, “How long does it take?”

If that’s the question, then the questions that you have to ask yourself to then answer that question are different than the question of, “What is the amount of water going into the container at any given moment?” That requires a different set of questions to answer. So I think what I love about the Dan Meyer examples is that it creates that uncertainty. It actually relishes in the uncertainty because of the way it then begs questions. It begs the curiosity that drives the educational experience. I think that is exactly the kind of thing that I think we should see in other disciplines as well.

Chris Friend:        So actually, I think this also touches on the idea of outcomes versus beacons, where when he presents a video like that, he doesn’t say, “My students are going to learn this formula.” He instead could say something like, “This is going to compel my students to learn math.”

Amy Collier:        Yeah. Right. Right.

Chris Friend:        We don’t know what kind of math they’re going to learn. We don’t know what kind of question they’re going to ask, but they are going to see that scenario as a mathematician.

Amy Collier:        Yes.

Chris Friend:        They will investigate a problem using math as a resource. I mean, that’s an outcome.

Amy Collier:        Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Friend:        That’s so much bigger than, “Our students are going to learn the equation for a parabola.”

Amy Collier:        Yes. Exactly. I think that’s exactly right, and I loved the way you phrased it: “My students will see these questions as a mathematician.” If one of your outcomes in life is for your students, when they leave whatever educational experience you provide for them — seeing the world as an agent of change in it who has the capabilities using a variety of different tools, like math and science and reading and etc. — then that to me seems like the kind of outcomes we should really be pushing in education.

With the outcomes movement, we’ve seen a strong push-back towards quantitative, computational and positivistic ways of knowing, and particularly knowing in terms of educational outcomes.

What we’re trying to do is push the pendulum back a little bit towards a little bit more of a qualitative moment that brings lived experience and ethnography and narrative back into the conversation about how can we understand what students learned more deeply than just through outcomes and analytics and these testing and all that kind of stuff. So that to me is, I would say, a call to action that a group of us have heard and are really starting to have conversations about how we could inform that.

Part of pushing the pendulum back is to consider the words we use when discussing the education system … and the perspective that language reflects. Amy has written before about the “language of brokenness” often heard in education — and particularly edtech — discussions. She counters with a “language of opportunity” that she believes would be a better way to approach thinking about educational improvement.

Amy Collier:        The rhetoric of opportunity as it’s described is actually from Mike Caulfield, who is a great friend of mine and someone who I respect immensely, and I so took the notion of rhetoric of opportunity from him, but one of the reasons why I push back on the rhetoric of brokenness — and others, not just me — is because that rhetoric tends to be accompanied with this kind of quick-fix solution mentality. I think it was Martin Weller who said, “Show me a person who talks about education being broken who doesn’t have a company or quick fix in the back-pocket that they’re trying to sell you.” Right?

It’s almost always associated with this kind of quick-fix model, but it also resonates with me, this kind of pushing back on the rhetoric of brokenness, because as a family sociologist, as someone who comes from a background of studying families, they have big conversations in our discipline for many years about a similar kind of movement happening in the framing of families, the brokenness rhetoric as being applied to a family. What that does is it creates a deficit model. It creates this notion of an ideal to which all things must be measured, and that anything that doesn’t fit that ideal — it’s a very structural kind of way of seeing things — is a deficit.

Stephanie Coontz wrote a book, gosh, a couple decades ago now called “The Way We Never Were,” and it’s a book about how we’ve created these mindsets about the way American culture used to be, the way the American family used to be, the way this used to be, and in fact none of it’s actually true. These are idealized versions of a past, but what it does is it creates that deficit model. In education, I think it does the exact same thing. It creates a deficit model.

When Mike talks about the rhetoric of opportunity, and I’m actually going to quote him here, he says, “The rhetoric of opportunity is better than the rhetoric of crisis for a number of reasons. In a rhetoric of opportunity, things which are improvements move forward. Things which are not, do not. A rhetoric of opportunity doesn’t denigrate the people who are doing wonderful things now, and it doesn’t pretend that what we have now is any worse than what we grew up with. Most of all, the rhetoric of opportunity forces comparison with real-world alternatives, because it admits that while it is quite possible to do better, it is at least as possible to do worse. There is no, ‘Well anything is better than this’ copout, and that forces a sincere analysis.”

I love that. I think the important piece there is it says, “The rhetoric of opportunity doesn’t denigrate people who are doing wonderful things now,” which I think, again, a lot of the learnification that’s been happening in education has really created a tension around teachers, has pushed us to say things like, “Bad teachers,” and really created a negative space around what teachers do and takes away from the value of the things that they already do. So that’s why I think that pushing the rhetoric of opportunity is a better way of thinking about what’s going on in education.

Chris Friend:        As you were talking about the rhetoric of opportunity itself, I kept thinking about the way we view our students in our classrooms. If we view them as problems to be fixed, or if we view them as troublemakers to be caught, then the entire approach to the class is colored by that.

Amy Collier:        Right. Yeah.

Chris Friend:        The only standard that they can live up to is one of disappointment, [crosstalk][48:28] but if we instead view them as people with potential and with interests and with abilities — and instead of trying to catch them at things, we try and give them chances to show what they’re able to do — then that dramatically changes the way we view them, assess them, expect things of them.

Amy Collier:        Right.

Chris Friend:        We start looking for the good rather [crosstalk][48:48] than catch them at the bad.

Amy Collier:        Yes.

Chris Friend:        So I think, yeah, what you’re talking about, that mind shift, is huge, and it certainly applies to education on the whole, but it’s something that I try to do more and more in my classroom and with the individual humans that I’m looking at any given day.

Amy Collier:        Yes.

Chris Friend:        To look at them and say, “It’s not that you’re failing to live up to expectations. It’s that I’ve failed to provide you opportunities to show what you’re able to do well.” Or, as you were saying, to feel uncomfortable, to take risks, to try something new and then to see what you’re able to grow into.

Amy Collier:        Yeah.

Chris Friend:        Yeah.

You've been tuned to HybridPod, a production of Hybrid Pedagogy, Inc.

Just because the show is over doesn't mean the conversation ends. Amy and I are each accessible through Twitter, and so is the show itself. So along those lines, @HybridPod and @chris_friend would like to thank @amcollier (that’s A-M-C-O-L-L-I-E-R) for taking the time to talk with me for this episode. For the record, Amy is the first HybridPod guest to physically unplug her office phone from the wall in order to do an interview. If that’s not dedication, I don’t know what is. (I also hope she remembered to plug it back in again!)

To hear more episodes, you can subscribe to HybridPod in your favorite podcast listing service. But the best place to go is our home on the web: Find us at hybridpod.audio, where you can hear all our episodes and add to the conversation online. That's hybridpod.audio.

Thanks for listening!

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