Those who know me know that I read a lot – books, blogs, cereal boxes – you name it, I’ll read it. You never know where the next good idea will come from – particularly if it has something to do with education. (It’s hard to stop being an education professor). In one of the blogs I follow, I read about Joan Murphy and her school’s use of the “Responsive Classroom.” Murphy, a K-5 school counselor, explained that this research-based approach to teaching is based on the idea that the social side of education is as important as the academic side. Murphy shared the example of a new student who asked, “Why is everyone so nice here?” The teacher answered, “Who we learn with is as important as what we learn. It’s important to show that we care about each other.” In a responsive classroom, the greatest cognitive growth occurs through social interaction.
As I read through the guiding principles, I thought about how they could apply in extension and engagement work. When I replaced the word children with people, and the reference to teachers with extension professionals, they seemed a pretty good fit.
- How people learn is as important as what they learn.
- To be successful academically and socially, people need to learn and practice a specific set of social skills: cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy, and self-control.
- Knowing the people we teach individually, culturally, and developmentally is as important as knowing the content we teach.
- Knowing the families of the people we teach is as important as knowing the people we teach.
- How we, extension professionals, work together is as important as our individual competence.
I’ve said many times that our work isn’t just about creating access to education, our work is about people. Because we’re people and our clients and partners are people. The education and experiences we provide and the interactions we share work together to build a strong Iowa. See you there.
P.S. You can read Joan Murphy’s article, “The Responsive Classroom: ‘Why Is Everyone So Nice Here?’” in Edutopia. You can follow me on Twitter @cathannkress.