TiE TEACHER GUIDE
We offer some suggestions on how to open opportunities for students to engage with uncertainty. This can be done with children and young people of any age (early years upwards), although some activities will clearly work better with some ages and groups of students than others.
Being open to change
Engaging students with uncertainty requires teachers to invite and to be open to hearing how students register their experience of a taught topic (through different knowledge; feelings in their bodies; things they do; faith and values).
Supporting divergent student behaviour
Opening up spaces to engage with uncertainty allows students to be divergent, but in a way that interrogates what can be known and done in order to think how to live one’s life without placing oneself at the centre of the world.
Working with uncertainty can raise teacher concerns about opening the gates to student rebellion! When students are inappropriately divergent, this takes up teacher time and attention.
With support, students can shift gear between the times to listen and the times to voice their experiences. Using different physical locations, such as the outdoors, can offer some distance from the usual expectations of the classroom, so that teachers and students can find another way of being together. The novelty of the setting may initially evoke some excitement, but activities can help to settle students and focus their attention. For example:
In Higher Education, student divergence is encouraged. The University of Sussex strategic plan emphasises education that is is 'divergent by design'.
The teacher’s role
There are four key roles for teachers engaging their students with uncertainty: share your knowledge; support students to share their experiences; challenge students to verify what can be claimed; encourage reflection on educational value of engaging with uncertainty.
ngaging with uncertainty goes beyond the simple facilitation of thoughts and ideas. The teacher is pivotal in opening up opportunities and supporting students to engage with uncertainty, where they can do safely with the support of an adult, by supporting students to stay with, and work through, ‘not knowing’ something about a topic to see what might emerge.
We identify four key role areas:
Using creative, playful and deliberative activities
Creative, playful and deliberative activities can be particularly helpful in supporting students to reflect on the different ways they experience a topic: whether something as discrete as a poem or as limitless as climate change. Such activities help students to surface how they register their experiences (ie drawing on different knowledge, feelings in their bodies, the things we do and encounter; faith and values). We have compiled some example activities.
Probing questions to ask students
Key to engaging students with uncertainty is the types of questions we ask. These need to encourage students to attend closely to the topic, to identify and communicate their own responses, and to verify what can be known, without being limited to identifying only one or a ‘correct’ answer.
We have also developed a framework on the different purposes and models of education.
See our blog Modelling Transformative Education or the more detailed journal paper with the same name in Forum.