Ph.D After 50

My Experiences in Graduate School as a Student in her 50s

Ph.D After 50

Change Over Time or Timeless?

Change over time or timeless?

As I read, and watched, our readings/videos this week, I was struck by two seemingly dichotomous observations. First that pedagogy changes, and should change, over time (great observation for a historian, right? 🙂 ) and, perhaps in opposition, that some pedagogical practices seemingly don’t change. There is almost a timelessness to them. Let me explain.

I will start with ideas that seem to me to be ageless. As I read and listened to ideas about learning through playing games and tinkering, I really couldn’t help but think that this sort of pedagogy sounded familiar. Exploring, trying something, failing, trying again, becoming frustrated, overcoming frustration and in the process, learning, seemed to me to actually be a very old form of pedagogical practice. In essence, a practice in which a teacher/game designer asks more questions than gives answers and creates the space for self-directed discovery for overcoming problems and initiating critical thinking seems a lot like the socratic method. This method is not unlike Harry Potter as he learned to use his wand.

But to say that pedagogical practices are just a different iterations of something familiar sells short and minimizes the need for educators to adapt to changes over time. I recently asked my sixteen year old granddaughter who is staying with me right now (she attends an online high school which gives her much freedom of movement and a chemistry experiment proceeds on the table in front of me as I write this), “Who taught you about networking with friends through the internet? How did you learn about social media?” Her answer was that she doesn’t remember being “taught” to use the internet for networking. To her, she just always “knew” how to do it (self-directed exploration probably). This is a very different attitude than I have about using the internet – especially for networking. It seems foreign to me, scary and non-understandable, but to her it’s like breathing – easy and second nature.

She is like many of the students that show up in my classroom……..

Times have changed since I first began teaching and I must change along with them. It is scary. It is hard for me to understand. However, I desire to capture the imagination of the digital student (the Reacting to the Past games seem especially intriguing.) Any change, however, will take a step on my part – a willingness to look at my teaching philosophy and be open to change. And while intimidating, I believe change can also   be adventurous and rewarding.

(Retrieved from in a post entitled  “The Integration of Technology in the 21st Century Classroom: Teachers Attitudes and Pedagogical Beliefs Toward Emerging Technologies by Chien Yu.)


4 Opinions

  • Jyotsana said:

    Change is awesome! and like you said sometimes very necessary. In developing an interdisciplinary course and co-teaching a couple of years ago to high school students, I realized that our course did more for the students than what it did for us. The synthesis of their information was much greater and wider than our because we presented information in silos and they integrated those silos in their minds. So while intimidating the end result often is rewarding and if not then we can just go back to re-think and alter to see what would make that difference next time.

  • A. Nelson said:

    The story about your granddaughter really resonates with me and highlights one of the key points made by Thompson and JSB — that “natives” of the digital ecosystem aren’t necessarily aware of what they are doing — it feels “natural” to them. Which of course invites us to look a bit more deeply at what’s going on in order to become better teachers and to help students understand some of the metacognitive processes at work.

  • Kathryn Culbertson said:

    Thanks for another thoughtful post, Faith. I feel like I’m becoming a bit of a groupie. I think you hit on something I never really made it around to saying in my post: that improvement of our processes and think is not really a wholesale change, although some sure act as if it is.

    I feel like we may actually be *swinging back* toward the type of learning that seemed to occur in the 1930’s and ’40’s (albeit limited to certain people who had access to the appropriate resources) in the trying-failing-re-trying mindset (what is now referred to as a ‘growth mindset’) and in the tinkering/making culture that is reemerging (now that many kids/parents don’t have access to a garage full of tools). I don’t mean going backward, but often I am engaged in conversations with educators who talk about the pendulum on teaching methods/fads/thinking swinging back after a swing forward when a new way/method/fad has faded from view.

    I think your students are lucky to have you. It is wonderful to meet a thoughtful, willing Educator who is open to the possibilities that change can bring.

    • admin said:


      Thank you so much for your comments here and other posts. I greatly appreciate your insights. I apologize for not responding sooner! I really appreciated your comments on moving to a collaborative learning environment – in moving students away from the “perform so I can get a degree” mentality. I don’t think it is easy and I’m not sure how to do it, but I am challenged by this class to work on it!


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