World Youth Day 2011 – being with young men and women

“But what about you,” he asked “who do you say that I am?”

I have been juggling my time between classroom teaching and facilitating retreats and  recollections with college students. As if “existentially thrown” into teaching young men and women from rich families, I have to find my way into their own contextual confusions, level of existential curiosities or social conscience. Context is very important.

Passing on ideas is a little handy. It’s main requirement is one’s willingness to become a talker. What is crucial though is the content – what’s being passed on and how it’s being passed on. But beyond passing on, once considered as the parameter of learning that was so teacher-centered has been challenged by findings especially in developmental psychology research. What were once the standard learning pedagogies of  rote memorization or “multiple choice” tests of my late father’s yester-schools are now of course questioned, modified, debunked by developmental psychology. Now, we talk about “transformative learning” or “constructivist classrooms” and the exploration of the meaning of these phrases continue despite its established definitions. “Constructivist classrooms” are grounded on the assumption and research-based data generated for example by Piaget and other cognitive psychologists that the human mind is pliable enough for restructuring developmentally. Whereas in traditional classrooms, teachers generally behave in a didactic manner, disseminating information to students, in a constructivist classroom, teachers behave in an interactive manner, serving as mediators of the learning environment for students. Whereas in traditional classrooms, strict adherence to fixed curriculum is highly valued, in constructivist classrooms, the pursuit of student questions are highly valued. Whereas in traditional classrooms, students are viewed as “blank slates” onto which information is etched by the teacher, in a constructivist classroom, students are viewed as thinkers with emerging theories about the world. Consistent with the findings of physics, especially quantum physics, constructivist classrooms are based on the presupposition that learning is a complex process that “defies the linear precepts of measurement and accountability,” that the linear approach to educational renewal is badly flawed” because of the multidimensionality of reality that equally includes students’ internally constructed understandings and sense of meaning about the world.

I have less burden with teaching, even within a constructivist classroom. The steep challenge comes in facilitating or leading retreats and recollections, especially ones with a contemplative bent as part of its content. It’s a big deal for my literally still aching back and shoulders. In facilitating, we can talk about strategies and skills, knowledge in group dynamics or even handy group games. But beyond techniques and their “therapeutic workability,” there is a burden that the young men and women of today, especially those coming from well-off families that a facilitator like myself cannot but absorb within the process. It’s how distracted they are by a lot of noises, especially technological noises. These are young people overexposed to gadgets and the noise of social networking. These are people whose minds are discombobulated by a barrage of information, even thinking that facebooking can still be squeezed in within a retreat, that a retreat at least must be loaded with music videos all the time. They are edgy after a short absence from their computer monitors. They have a hard time trying to be still and I doubt if stillness is a learning pedagogy in their homes and dormitories. These young men and women, just like any human being regardless of his/her developmental stage, are inherently charged with the power of silence except that its discovery must be an uphill, steep climb within a more seductive, easy, gratifying, senses-stimulating subculture of technological noise.

With the wear and tear of work, I still would like to declare: Firmes en la Fe…

_____________-

Source: in search of understanding: the case of constructivist classrooms by Jacqueline Grennon Brooks and Martin G. Brooks

Technology, i believe helps and can facilitate into silence. I don’t believe though that our senses have to be overstimulated to advance in our prayer life…

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