An Educational Warranty?

Posted: September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

war·ran·ty

noun /ˈwôrəntē/  /ˈwä-/
warranties, plural

  1. A written guarantee, issued to the purchaser of an article by its manufacturer, promising to repair or replace it if necessary within a specified period of time

Educational “contracts” have been around for years and I recall the (attempted) introduction of the green desk system at my school in my later years. This basically revolved around William Roger’s Discipline Plan that saw students given ascending punishments such as being given a warning, being moved to an isolated table and being removed from the room for ongoing poor behaviour. At the time, it had mixed success at the government high school that I attended.

I recently came across this great blog post at English Teacher Confessions, which lists 13 pet peeves – number 12 reads:

The day after a major essay is due, ask your teacher if she’s graded them yet; if she balks, ask her if she’s graded yours yet; ask every day until they’re returned.

This followed on from seeing this cartoon at the start of the year:

from Joe Bower’s For the Love of Learning Blog

So perhaps student behaviour is a timeless, known quantity and the changes in society and the expectations of education have evolved. As more mobile devices become used/available in the class room, should we be exploring what the expectations are for student and teacher alike? Schools are developing the ability to allow students to access their files on servers at any time and many have contact with staff via email and class portal pages. What are the expectations for being able to contact staff at any time and, in being able to do this, what are the (time) expectations for staff to respond? In writing this, I am exploring the idea of the motivated and probably more able student, rather than the disruptive or indifferent one. Certainly, the days of a student heading off to the nearest major (university?) library to spend the day going through all the reference and stack items are endangered if not gone already. The issue is not what can be accessed, but how best to do it and how to develop a student’s curiosity, as well as the ability to discriminate with information that is available online.

Therefore, I am (lightheartedly) proposing a school warranty. You’ll notice that I copied the definition that came up for ‘warranty definition’ on Google at the top of my post and this covers the noun. I like the verb – warrant –  to justify or necessitate (a certain course of action), even more so. It suggests an active ‘doing’ rather than something set in place. I have no legal experience, but how about, as Draft 1.0, something like the following?

This understanding is made on the basis that we live in exciting technological times and you are a student looking to do your best, wanting to discover new ideas and thinking and you are ready to work. To this effect:

I warrant that I

  • will look to challenge the way you think, in order to open up your mind to fresh ideas and ways of working
  • understand that you have those mobile devices and that we will look to use them to further the ideas and content creation of the class
  • will continue to learn myself and challenge the way that I think and teach in order to promote both our positions
  • can learn from you and that together we will both benefit
  • will commit to giving you the best service that I can, through preparation, resources, feedback and direction and that this will often occur out of class time
  • am human; that (like you), I will make mistakes and I will endeavour to make amends and learn from them in future
  • will sing your praises from the rooftop because I can be so proud of your efforts

In accepting this Warranty, you undertake to

  • question everything and accept nothing at face value until you have scutinised, analysed, and tested it
  • bring your brain as well as your iWhatever along with you to use to benefit the work of all in the class
  • not try to add me as a “Facebook Friend” – we can be friendly, without having to be Friends
  • commit to fully participating, including completing the tasks and readings set, respecting the efforts of all and not shortchanging yourself through shortcuts
  • produce your own work, including attributing all sources you have used, to the best of your ability, which may involve re-drafting a piece of work at a later date
  • respect my role as teacher, including realising that, while I have may be able to access your communications at any time, I am not necessarily going to respond then and there
  • teach me as well with ideas that you have, apps that you come across and possibilities to explore

There’s probably more, (quite possibly less too!) but it’s a start. As a colleague said when I mentioned the idea for this post, “Not sure about the idea of the extended warranty!!”

Would love your thoughts and perspectives, as always.

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