Well the original concept of pedagogy involves caring for and accompanying a child on their developmental journey. This week I am in Dubai giving parental support to my daughter who has just had a baby. She has another child who is not yet two but has somehow discovered the terrible two's - not yet able to explain what he wants and doesn't want to do (he already has plenty of opinions) he can fly into a bit of a rage. But he is lovely to be with and he readily involves me in his play which he is very good at!
So this is the context for my learning this week. On my first day we went to a shopping mall with an arcade that included a soft play area. I have discovered on more than one occasion that these soft play areas can be a bit tricky to negotiate for a granddad and a few of the passages and obstacles were a bit tight for me. But knowing I had to accompany and watch out for my grandson I did my best to keep up with him. Needless to say he was way ahead most of the time.. But we came to a tubular slide that was quite steep and dark and he didn't want to go down it. It was also tricky for me to climb into but not one to be defeated, and knowing I would have to struggle back through all the obstacles if we didn't go down, I grabbed my grandson before he could run off - down we went with much shrieking and laughter.. Thankfully he loved it and of course we had to do it again only this time he did it by himself and for the next half an hour we went down it many times. I thought here was an example of accompanying the child on his journey doing what he was doing and where appropriate showing him how to do it so that he learnt by us doing it together. By doing it with him we both had more or less the same experience at the same time in exactly the same space sharing similar feelings aroused by the same sensory information. This way of 'teaching' most definitely involved the whole of me and the whole of him. For him it will be just one small experience on his developmental journey, for me it will an experience I will always remember.
When I think about my career as a higher education teacher I think the nearest I came to this pedagogical practice of accompanying and sharing exactly the same experience as my students and showing them in a 'whole of being' sense how I tackle a disciplinary problem would be in my career as a geology teacher when I would spend time in the field with students when they were undertaking their independent mapping. Each day a different student would take me into their field area and explain their understandings of the geology and show me the map they were constructing and any challenges they had encountered. Where appropriate I would try to demonstrate how I would tackle the problem using the same tools that they would use. We would be sharing the same physical space and sensory information, applying the same principles and methodologies trying to arrive at an objective interpretation. The process was one of being geologists tackling a problem in the field together.