It was raining hard. We were huddled in the largest hall of a government school. Lights were dim but the chatter was loud. I was at a Teaching / Learning Materials (TLM) festival. On the face of it, it looked like an art and science fair, but it wasn’t. All tables and walls were covered with colourful TLM made by teachers. These working models, made with craft material, helped teachers explain and illustrate difficult concepts to children.
I learned about energy cycles and how to tell what day was today if yesterday was Thursday. I asked a teacher, “You work so hard to make these model, can you prove that the children learn more due to this?” She said, “I cannot prove that, but I can show you that it improves how I teach.” Prove. Improve. What is more important?
I have often asked, “Can you prove that it works? What are the outcomes?” She made me reflect that maybe my questions were wrong. It may be better to explore, “Can you show how it helps you improve what you do? What have you improved today?” I often wonder what would it prove if 10 million teachers made one small improvement every day? A change in their ability to prove or improve their ability and agency to change?
Image Source: Smithsonian: National Museum of American History