So this is the last post of 9x9x25 and it has seemingly gone by quickly and yet lingered enough for us to engage in great discussions and find wonderful teaching and learning ideas from far and wide.
Those of you who have been reading these weekly (i.e. Terry) will know that I have had a theme running through my posts which is words and the origin and meaning of words. I thought words to be a good paradigm through which to think through various aspects of teaching, learning, curriculum, design, education, access, and all of the other great outcomes and goals we have in our day-to-day lives. One of the good reasons for this is that, as I have mentioned before, a lot of the disagreements we have in education are around terminology and definition of terms. If we start thinking about the words themselves and break them down, we may in fact start breaking down the barriers and find the root of the disagreement.
Therefore, for this last post of 9x9x25 I decided to start a word related challenge- pick a word (just one) that would describe your ideal pedagogy. For me this is usually really easy, my go to word for this is usually ethical because I feel it is an all encompassing concept that applies to many aspects of education. However, I started thinking about other words last night and the one that I am going to focus on for the remainder of this post is –flexibility.
Most educators will appreciate the need for flexibility. In a classroom you may have the most meticulously planned out lesson plan but the class discussion takes the concepts you are discussing into new and more interesting spaces and your best plans become secondary to what is happening in the moment. A lot of the best teaching and learning happens “in the moment” and flexibility is necessary.
The word flexibility (you didn’t think I would leave you without one last etymology would you) is from the Latin flexibilis meaning “that may be bent, pliant” (Flexible). One of the great things about flexible is all the related words that come from the same root such as circumflex (the accent sign-such as in fête in French) or genuflect (to bend at the knee), or reflection which I spoke about in the week 4 post.
Flexible or flexibility has a lot of interesting connotations in our educational spaces besides the need to be “in the moment” in the classroom. Flexibility also relates to UDL principles and design and how access means that we need to go beyond only one way to finish an assignment or activity. Flexibility also relates to how we engage with students and keeping an awareness that the very linear model that post-secondary education is built on does not always work well. Flexibility can also be very introspective; it is important to be a bit more flexible with ourselves, a bit more pliant. If you did not finish grading all 25 essays on the weekend, that’s okay. If you did not finish reading that book yet that you promised yourself that you would, that’s okay. Academia and higher education often puts up non-flexible boundaries and it’s important to start talking about them. Flexibility is applicable in many ways in our work and works in tandem with an ethical and inclusive environment.
This post touched on many of the concepts that I spoke about in the previous weeks and in the comments I have left on other blogs. So in the spirit of tying things up, think about the word you would pick to describe your pedagogy or your work and why you would choose that specific word. You can share it on Twitter with the #My9x9x25Word or put it in the comments below. Thank you all for sharing this space with me over the past 9 weeks and for sharing your insights and strategies that make our educational spaces more inclusive and rewarding for everyone.
Flexible. Online Etymology Dictionary. https://www.etymonline.com/word/flexible