The Creativity of Pedagogical Sampling

In his Ted Talk, Mark Ronson explains the process of creating his own music through sampling previous music recordings,  “I can bully our existences into a shared event…I can insert myself in that narrative, or alter it, even.” He says that this has always been true of music, and that the explosion of technology has simply accelerated and democratised this over the past 30 years.

The #NTENRED Conference last weekend hosted by Huntington School, York, was an example of what Ronson refers to as just such a ‘shared event’. Every one of the 200 who attended and every one of those who watched online, followed the tweets and who have since caught up with post-event blogs have been invited to ‘insert themselves in that narrative’ of the conference-conversation. They are all now in a position to decide how they might ‘alter it’ and decide how to build on and implement what they learnt.

By increasing education practioners’ accessibility to and engagement with, the body of research about learning, there is a golden opportunity to integrate this with individual observations and insights in a balanced and measured way. In other words, practitioners can deliberately ‘sample’ the information they gather from external sources (the body of research) with the information from internal sources (their own practice and context). In doing so, practitioners are empowered to design learning that is directly informed by the existing body of research intertwined with the unique needs of their individual students. They can then tailor their design to their own specific contexts whilst remaining consistently clear and well-informed about the specific changes they want to bring about.

The real creativity in teaching and learning happens when we weave our reflective practice into the rich understanding we can draw from our sampling and fusing of research and practice and in doing so, increase our profession’s collective consciousness. The ‘fresh and new’ that Ronson refers to is that unique mix of our own expertise, the uniqueness of our own learners and the specific context in which those elements find themselves in at any given moment in time.

So by continuing to nurture an on-going dialogue between practice and research, we bring ever closer the day when we can say of education what Ronson says of music,

“…the dam has burst…we take the things that we love and we build on them, that’s just how it works and when we add something significant and original…then we have a chance to be a part of the evolution of that [education] that we love and be linked with it once it becomes something new again.”



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