I find it fascinating to follow Chia Suan Chong’s detailed descriptions of her “unplugged” lessons during this “Dogme Teach Off” challenge that she is taking. Chia describes her impressive lessons in such a way (including pictures of the white board and a sense of humor!) that it is the next best thing to being a fly on the wall in her classroom.
Now that we are up to day 6, I’ve begun wondering.
Remember “The Boat Paradox”? How many parts of a boat can be replaced and one can still call it the same boat?
If I take these lessons as a sample of how a series of Dogme lessons should unfold, which elements can I change and to which extent (still keeping a skilled teacher like Chia, of course!) while expecting a reasonable degree of success?
Chia is teaching quite a small class. I wonder, would these lessons would work as well with 18, 25 or 40 students? 40 students is not a hypothetical number, my colleagues in “regular” classes have 40 students!
Now, let’s imagine that the students were all teenagers who lived close to each other and have gone to school together for years. I have tried isolated Dogme lessons myself and found that my teenagers reacted well to them. However, it would seem to me that some elements of Chia’s lessons would be problematic (or would at least be treading on treacherous waters). Teens are sensitive and very concerned with what their peers think of them. Asking a simple question about their weekend activities could be a very hard point to expand on. Particularly when you have students from very different socio-economic levels in the class. Some students might say they slept and played on the computer. Some might relate great activities they went on with their families while others flatly refuse to cooperate with the lesson as it reminds them of the glaring difference between those lucky kids to what happens in their own homes. It seems to me that the lessons such as Chia has been teaching could work well with teens with the addition of an imaginative component such as “tell the class about a great weekend you would like to have”, but I would really like to hear from someone who has taught unplugged with teens.
Taking this further, what if Chia was teaching 8 year olds? They certainly love to talk about themselves! Obviously the topics that would come up would be different, but can you sustain a series of unplugged activities at this age?
I could go on, but the point is that I’m asking these questions because I really DO want the boat to be recognizable as the same boat!