PBL Pedagogy

When my school decided to move to a problem-based curriculum as the teaching style in the geometry course, I kept a blog of the transition of that year. You can find a record of that account at http://emmapbl.edublogs.org/. (I stopped keeping that blog once Edublogs added advertisements to the blog, so I apologize for those pop-ups, however there are still some good entries there.) The experience we had in writing and implementing the PBL curriculum was a very interesting one, and one that many other schools could learn from. The pedagogy needed to have a successful PBL curriculum takes practice.

A great deal of my teaching in the classroom is conducted with a discussion-based, student-centered style of teaching with mostly student presentation of solutions or partial solutions to problems. The pedagogical philosophical frameworks from which I draw are known as feminist and relational pedagogies. I will attempt to briefly outline these here, but if you are interested in reading more please see my annotated bibliography on Feminist Mathematics Pedagogy in my Portfolio or the book No Education Without Relation by Charles Bingham and Alexander M. Sidorkin (2004).

Yes, Feminist Pedagogy is based on the assumptions that women and girls are in need of support and empowerment to have equal access to educational opportunities. However, as with other postmodern educational theories, it also supports the concept that all other underrepresented or oppressed groups’ voices should be valued and encouraged as well. Teachers should create a classroom climiate and learning environment that works to encourage a democratic community that allows for all learning styles and gives opportunities to all students. Although the focus is on equality and dissolving any authoritiarian hierarchy of power in the classroom with regard to gender, it can be extended to race, sexual orientation, learning style, social economic status and even mathematical ability.

Relational Pedagogy is an extension of feminist ideas and takes education into the relational realm. Basically, it posits the idea that all education happens within the social relationships between people, teachers and students, and also students and students. These relationships exist and grow in sharing experiences together and the acts of teaching and learning happen in building those relations. Because of the relational nature of education, communication, authority and power are very important aspects that need to be looked at in how students experience the learning environment. Adults in the learning community need to be ever cognizant of the different interpretations of the relationships that exist in order to make the most of the learning experience for all learners.