Projects, stories, challenges: More open architectures for school learning
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Wrigley, T. (2007) Projects, stories, challenges: More open architectures for school learning. In: Bell, S., Harkness, S. & White, G. (eds.) Storyline: Past, present & future. Glasgow: Enterprising Careers, University of Strathclyde, pp. 166-181.
Too much traditional school learning has been a form of alienated labour. Rather like factory work: the pupil is told what to do • how long to do it for • then hands over the product, not to a real user or audience but to the teacher • eventually getting back, in exchange, a mark from the teacher, as a surrogate wage. The activity and product may have no meaning to the producer – the pupil; it is just another task to be carried out because told to do so by the teacher. Frequently the end of the activity is marked by the clock, rather than by task completion, and extrinsic rewards (praise from the teacher, merit stickers, etc.) can never finally compensate for a lack of intrinsic meaning. To use an economic metaphor, in this situation learning has an exchange value rather than a use value. This sense of alienation is, I believe, particularly damaging in poorer neighbourhoods, yet there is a tendency for less engaged learners to be disengaged still further by a diet of exercises. On the other hand, my own fieldwork in more successful inner-city schools revealed pedagogies based on connecting with learners’ communities and interests, meaningful learning, and a sense of audience and worthwhile product.