A famous and experienced pianist took a break in the middle of a concert to chat to his audience. Whilst chatting, a child ran onto the stage and began to bash away at the piano, to the wide open mouths of the audience. The pianist, smiled, turned and sat down beside the child. Then he began to play alongside him. Using his competence and knowledge of the piano he began to compliment the notes the child hit, building on them and the beginning of a beautiful song emerged. The child smiled and played more intently, listening to the famous Pianists notes, watching his fingers, copying his riff’s. They played for a few more minutes before they stood up together and took a bow, connected by their shared music and attached to each other in this new relationship of collaboration.
Teaching is just like this – as is any role where you provide discipline (from the Latin verb “to learn”). But how you do, and who does this is up for grabs. I’m a pancake wizard. It is my calling on this earth to provide perfect and yummy pancakes. On our kitchen wall it is written “I love you… I made you pancakes.” I started to teach my son how to make them when he was about 5. Now he will remind me regularly, “butter in before the milk or it will go lumpy.” He’s nearly 10 and he is still mastering the “flip” but he’s getting there and nowadays we eat more pancakes than we do clean them up off the floor. Progress. Learning. But he also teaches me things. Like yesterday he taught me how to build my dream home in Minecraft. It has two, completely glass walls overlooking a lake below. I doubt very much if it is architecturally secure, but it looks amazing.
One of my step-sons (to be), given a reprieve from GCSE’s this year because of Corona-Virus, took on the challenge of supervising my 10 year old’s school work while I am out working. He is remarkably good at it and is now nick named “The Professor”. I watched his style – he was all “I don’t know J, let’s try it out together and see if it works.” Curiosity and Collaboration – two of the most important things in learning.
Whether it is the story of the pianist you remember, or the pancakes, or of 16 year old’s supervising 10 year old’s school work, remember that learning works best when you use curiosity and collaboration alongside the expectation to discipline – when you are “with them in it.”
Ted Watchel a well known proponent of Restorative Practice and models such as the Social Discipline Model said: "Human beings are happier, more cooperative and productive, and more likely to make positive changes in their behavior when those in positions of authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them.”
Recognising your natural position within the Social Discipline Model (see fig 1) and how it impacts on your style of teaching, is crucial to your ability to connect with students and develop their skill to take responsibility for their own (first dependent, then co-dependent and then independent) learning journey.
fig 1: The Social Discipline Window: P McCold & T Watchel
You can read more about the Social Discipline Model by clicking on the link below.
Or if you are interested in learning more about social discipline styles and the impact they have on a child’s capacity to learn as well as on the environment in which they learn, (be that the classroom or the kitchen table), then check out our online Introduction to Restorative Practices by clicking below. You can get 50% off by just entering RESTORE at the checkout and receive this course for only £24.
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