Practice and practitioners: How would Bruce Lee do literacy and numeracy?

I’m still thinking about metaphors for training and for literacy numeracy professionals. One that is stuck in my head at the moment is the idea that we are in the business of trying to create and enable practitioners.


Here’s a definition from the Wikipedia:

practitioner is someone who engages in an occupation, profession, religion, or way of life.

My work with ALEC is all of these things. It’s all consuming and ticks all these boxes. And that means that the doing of this work around strengthening literacy and numeracy is my practice. 

What interests me is this:

  • What are some of the other vocations and professionals that talk about their people as practitioners and what they do as a practice?
  • How would it change our teaching practice if we adopted some of these other vocations as metaphors for what we do as educators?

Here’s some food for thought then:

  1. Educator as health professional: We actually borrow other language from medicine in education… Diagnostic is one word that comes to mind. Intervention is another. Health and wellness are intimately linked with literacy and numeracy. It’s important not to push these metaphors too far, but figuring out what the problem is (e.g the gap between the demands of a task or text versus the actual ability of a learner) and then working out an appropriate intervention (to bridge the learning gap) does describe the kind of approach to embedding literacy and numeracy that we advocate.
  2. Teaching as meditation: This is a bit like the idea of becoming a reflective practitioner. It’s about increased self awareness and deliberately focusing attention on certain aspects of what we’re doing. Perhaps, this is a bit of a stretch… but if the purpose of meditation is to train our minds and realise some benefit to ourselves and others then it fits, particularly as we deliberately bring our attention to what we do in our teaching practice and reflect on whether it’s making a difference or not. When we do it right, embedding literacy and numeracy is just like meditation. There are all kinds of benefits… some of which may not be immediately obvious.
  3. Educator as martial artist: Martial arts is something that you practice, and a proponent is a practitioner. It’s also a discipline like meditation. And it’s about combat… here perhaps against social injustices and learners’ negative past experiences in education. Literacy and numeracy are some powerful kung fu. Could you be the Bruce Lee of literacy and numeracy?

Let me know in the comments…

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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