Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jigsaw Puzzle Education?

At the moment I'm facilitating an online course for the IBO.  Doing this is a great opportunity to revisit some of the curriculum documents that I haven't looked at in some time, and to read the various articles that the participants are also reading.  As a facilitator I think I am looking at these documents in a new light, and learning something new from revisiting them.  Today I read "What is a Coherent Curriculum?" by James A. Beane that compares a typical student's school experience with trying to make a jigsaw puzzle without knowing what the picture is.

I started to think about this, since I actually enjoy making jigsaw puzzles.  What if I just had a collection of pieces, but no idea of what the actual picture was, or if they were all part of the same puzzle?  The pieces themselves, especially at the beginning, are simply a collection of coloured shapes.  At the start of a puzzle I often look for the straight edge pieces and see how they fit together -  I want to know how big the puzzle will be.  At this point I need to look at the picture on the box to see where these straight edge pieces go - are they at the top or the bottom - and then I start to try out pieces that seem to fit together - perhaps a bit splash of one colour belongs in one place, perhaps all that blue might be the sky - but I always have the big picture to refer to and I am always looking to attach new pieces to the bits that I have already completed.

What is education like for our students, who go from class to class without any idea of the big picture?  It must be like collecting a lot of disconnected puzzle pieces and wondering how they fit together, as often the subjects and courses taught in schools are seen as very separate and distinct.  And then I started to think about the teachers - do we all know the big picture?  Do we know how all our little pieces fit together to make the whole?

Photo Credit:  Puzzling Beginnings by Joel Dinda, 2005 AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike

No comments:

Post a Comment