I was having a conversation with a colleague and friend who is also a teacher. She asked me (and I am paraphrasing): How do you know if what you are doing is really against the norm? Is it possible that what you see as new is actually what has been done?
As dubious as it sounded, I thought about this at length, as the questions came up while I was writing a reflection/vignette for the proceedings for the Canadian Symposium of Home Economics XII that I presented at last month. These questions made me ponder: am I not as “innovative” as I think I am? Should I pipe down about all the things I do that I perceive as being different in the classroom? Does my work diminish in value if what I do is not different enough? Now that I have my defense mechanisms out of the way I’ll try to work through this in words.
CAUTION: Inadvertant vagueness ahead
I think about my classroom design process: yes, I do take into account what is thought to be “normative” in the context of most home economics classrooms – I find that looking at what exists and has been practiced is a good historical backgrounder to see how far we have come. From there we are able to think about where we can go – thanks to my students and our conversations together I am able to feel as though we are creating an innovative and relatable experience together. I have conceptualized my practice in that as long as we are pushing the classroom environment ahead of (and not beyond) ourselves I consider us as being progressive. I hope that in an un-structure such as this, norms aren’t particularly indicators of what classroom activities should and will look like.
I would like to teach where change is normative but not a recitation of the norm.