Sunday, May 11, 2014

Boxes of poison

Stacks of cardboard boxes are scattered around Barnsborough. Children's avatars might just discover them, and if they do, by hovering over them they will read a label that says 'boxes of poison'. Such a chance discovery might or might not map on to their interest, and to the play of narratives that emerges in this virtual world and the classroom in which it is accessed. And what is more this will only happen through extended, exploratory and open-ended action and interaction. Story building of this sort, whether it involves drama, videogaming, movie-making, virtual world play or immersive  engagement with written text, takes time and has multiple and complex learning outcomes that are not quantifiable or easy to measure. Although understanding narrative and the opportunities for problem-solving and generating hypotheses that are embedded within are generally understood to involve important habits of mind and learning dispositions, they have come under threat from a curriculum that is driven by simple, measurable outcomes, over-specified learning objectives and so-called evidence-based practice. Reclaiming this territory is fraught with difficulty, particularly when dominant discourses are pervasive, and present a regime of truth which evokes sentiments like investing in our children's future, securing high standards and developing a world-leading education system - who could criticise those virtuous ambitions? In a forthcoming piece provisionally titled 'Boxes of Poison' that's exactly what we'll attempt to do!

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