«El 7º Congreso Internacional de Educación celebrado en la Universidad de California State Fullerton acoge con gran éxito el proyecto de ‘Flores para aprender’ creado por la profesora Mª Isabel Rodríguez Peralta»
I am grateful for your invitation and share with all the colleagues in this important International Conference my presentation about the powerful project for teachers:
Flowers to learn. A logical model for the development of the Curriculum by Prof Rodríguez:
The didactical proposal Flowers to Learn is based on a theorist and practical systematization of an original and easy-to-apply method to understand and implement (take to practices) many elements, structures and concepts considered a priori as difficult and abstract, but necessary for every professional of education. In this case, for university teachers, and also for students, what is to say in my particular context, future teachers and teachers in training.
“Flowers to learn” is also an answer to the need of understanding the basic curricular logic that must establish the relations among the different curricular components of the educative system. These relevant aspects are often eclipsed by the bureaucracy of the academic structures and usually more concerned with external elements, instead of the real challenges of the contemporary society, characterized by diversity, multiculturalism, and a number of difficulties to face.
Motivations and backgrounds
I would like to underscore that flowers to learn is basically a method to transmit and not to explain. If we try to establish the differences between both concepts, we shall run into many difficulties, because we tend to identify these two aspects in the process of teaching and learning. In any case, I will try to establish the necessary nuance of difference. Explaining can become a mechanical act, mandatory in any teaching and learning process, but insufficient for a significant learning. By contrast, transmitting implies:
- To take in the elements we try to explain.
- To show the susceptibility of being applied to the real and different contexts.
- To life what we talk about. A lack of congruence usually implies an absence of transmission. That is why if we want to transmit concepts, ideas of structure, it turns into a priority to believe those elements we repeat and talk constant about.
- To transmit (using the concept we intend to explain) the interest and enthusiasm for learning, concepts and structures, often considered as hard and difficult to assimilate.
If we take into account the backgrounds of this methodology to transmit, flowers to learn is an answer to the needs I have observed along more than two decades of university teaching, and training future teachers. I have understood that if my main goal is to transmit these basic concepts, it is a priority for me to understand them. To get this objective, I needed to structure and develop an accurate method to visualize in an effective way what I really need to highlight, express and transmit.
The relevance of visualization
We must underscore that the concept of visualization essentially refers to the techniques that make it possible to project and understand data and structures of a certain area. This would allow the identification of the most relevant aspects of the area to be analyzed, taught or expressed. A number of different techniques and instruments such as maps, clusters, graphs and diagrams can be used to simplify the knowledge. Within the field of education these structures are becoming more and more relevant. And we consider this tool as a priority for our project. This fundamental approach is used to subsume complex terminological structures into simple units of analysis, interpretation, relationship and expression.
Another important aspect of this methodology is its tendency toward objectivity but in combination with the interpretation made by teachers and students. Conceptual maps are based on the analysis of the main concepts and the comprehension of their respective contents. In this case, although our methodology is related to all these techniques, we try to go beyond.
The image of a tree or a flower has interesting implications. On the one hand, turns into an attractive a familiar interpretation of all these visual techniques I have just mentioned. On the other hand, this is a clear means to employ creative resources in any context, counting with or without resources. It is also an easy means to awake motivation in our students (our practices have confirmed this asseveration). And in becomes, in turn, an effective tool and vehicle susceptible of being applied to:
- Diverse contexts.
- Places and schools with limited resources.
- Students with different needs.
We have also chosen the image of the flower, related to the idea or the tree at the same time, for a number of reasons:
- It becomes an efficient vehicle to make easy what we can consider as complex (objectives, contents, skills, methodologies, means and assesment).
- The idea of a tree and of a flower, depending of the choice, evokes the image of strength, power, related to the nature.
- Both constitute components of the nature, full of live and possibilities.
- We all feel familiarized with them since childhood.
- We can compare them with the elements we are trying to assimilate, learn and teach. If we take into account the metaphor of the tree, the trunk of the tree strengthens with the passing of time. This is similar to the teaching methodology: it becomes stronger over time. On the contrary, the leaves quicky fade, like a significant part of the contents. However, these leaves are to fall down on a short period of time, thanks to them we obtain the fruits, what is to say, the rewards.
I would like to emphasize that this has constituted an experience developed along several academic years. Many colleagues, and myself, were skeptic with the possible final results. I was convinced, in turn, that this methodology could work, or at least, it could make our students reflect on the subject of study in this particular case, or at least, not to leave them indifferent. I can say beforehand that the experience has surpassed my expectations.
My basic premise was based on the following question: Is it possible to disentangle the curricular logic in order to directly look at the reality? What is to say, How to translate the curricular structures into the reality we usually live in our classrooms, schools, relations? It is possible to potentiate the learning processes from a radically different perspective. Knowledge goes beyond any standard, so it is not possible to reduce the possibilities it offers because the practical knowledge does not end with the established skills.
On the basis of my wide experience, as University teacher in the Education field, specifically, in Didactics, I propose a methodology in four steps to better understand the curricular logic, and to elaborate, in turn interdisciplinary projects.
After we have implemented this methodology, both in students and teachers, I must underline that it works. Students consider that it is useful to acquire the whole structure of this area, sometimes, considered as tough and hard to understand and study: and after that. It can be applied to many knowledge fields, and a wide range of situations and contexts. Laws and rules easily change, just like every year the leaves of the trees fade and fall down; but the structures, the knowledge, the footprints we previously referred, remain, like the roots and branches.
Mª Isabel Rodríguez 29/07/2020
7th Annual International Conference on EDUCATION, CSU Fullerton, California 4-6 November 2019