Our research explores the benefits of working with uncertainty, where teachers alone cannot know the answers. This includes:
- Deep learning: providing students with the space to explore uncertainty can make for deep learning. They are not simply concerned with identifying correct answers, but engage with curricular knowledge by asking questions, sharing opinions and exploring different ways of looking at things.
- Self-awareness and being changed: students may experience themselves as participants in the world, have an enhanced awareness of their own intelligence, and a recognition of their ability to know something deeply; to be something other than that which they had been previously. Examples of the latter might include: to be moved by a line in a poem that intrigues them; to be captivated by an image in a microscope; to be one who speaks about something that matters to oneself; and to be one who does something for oneself and for the common good. Such transformations might be momentary (but still important) or longer lasting.
- Embracing difference and complexity: rather than shying aware from differences of perspectives and opinions, working with uncertainty engages with these head on. Such opportunities help to avoid the ‘good/bad’ polarisation and moralising (as evident in popularist movements, for example). This is necessary to live respectfully and compassionately with others, in ways that embrace difference.
- School and wider structural change: working with uncertainty opens the possibility that students may question or even reject curricular knowledge and taken-for-granted school and wider community practices. This might be later in their adult lives or possibly now. Some students, for example, are currently rejecting what they see as colonising and patriarchal historical accounts of the world; some are challenging school practices that pose a threat to climate change and biodiversity loss. This possibility is key to schooling within a democracy, where something considered to be of worth is offered with integrity on the basis that it may be taken up or rejected. Students may challenge the way things have always been done, and identify ways to transform aspects of their school, the wider local and global community, as well as their own lives.
Schooling only for conformity is never sufficient within a system with democratic ideals. . . . [Rosa] Parks knew that it was considered unacceptable for people of colour to choose where to sit on a public bus, but still she rejected the bus driver’s order when told where to sit. (see our blog A test of citizenship: Rosa Parks and how to educate for a world of uncertainties)