Certain things in life are so obvious and regular they hardly need mentioning or consideration at all, like: having a good night’s rest; eating your veggies, love your parents… They get ignored. It is a good thing to be remembered about their worth from time to time. Self-evidency tends to eat itself. There is the story of a good servant who was completely forgotten about by a rich family when moving out of their mansion (1). Apparently, he was too much taken for granted. Unless you are a Kevin (from the movie Home alone) you will be trapped in oblivion. Lesson drawn? Be, or find at least, a Kevin. Professionals (including parents) without a Kevin enter a danger zone: too much of what they do is taken for granted (and ignored). The danger being: what counts and matters most tends to get obscured by routines and worn paths (2). Encapsulated in custom behaviors is a deadly trap for good, professional service (3). Not to fear; it can be mended, not necessarily though the sturdy way of Kevin but by having some kind of investigative reporting that keeps track of professional traps and easygoing. Behind the classroom door pupils can be “helpful Kevin’s” (no, this is not an oxymoron).
A nicely done action research study in Finland showed that pupils, when given the investigative tools like video observation, making photographs, can come up with relevant instances of good and bad classroom activities. Bringing them up in classroom discussion with the teacher helped, according to the findings, to reflect on practices, restructure practical theories, and learn about pupil perspectives. The activity helped pupils to create a sense of belonging and partnership in teaching.
The promising outcome of the study is that “evidence” can be collected (beyond evaluation happiness sheets; i.e, by photographic documentation) about how teaching and learning evolves in a classroom and together with subsequent reflection can enlighten the teacher’s work. But true as well, in a truly Kevin-world this also could scare away the professional. Because there is no reciprocity, or mutual benefit. When viewed as investigative research into classroom activity which is being conducted by teacher and pupils jointly it would really empower to learn.
Reetta Niemi, Kristiina Kumpulainen & Lasse Lipponen (2015) Pupils’ documentation enlightening teachers’ practical theory and pedagogical actions, Educational Action Research, 23:4, 599-614, To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09650792.2014.942334