Start with the why, I get it, but…

In bold are 11 Brazilian Portuguese idiomatic expressions.
Can you guess what they mean from context? Answers at the end of the post.

What Michael Fullan goes on about here is what I’ve been hearing for years. He is, as we say in Portuguese, raining on what is already wet (1). Kids going on to make the world better? Yes, that’s literally the IB mission statement.

The International Baccalaureate® aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. – IB Mission Statement

21st Century Skills? Yes. The IB calls those ATL’s, and the 6Cs of Deep Learning are all in there. Nice try, Fulllan.

What I enjoyed about Fullan’s approach to transforming education in Ontario was his focus on the middle and the iterative approach that starts with good practices. This might feel like you are putting the cart in front of the ox (2), in relation to academia and research. Nonetheless,  I appreciate the agile approach and know that’s the way forward to cause meaningful, sustainable changes in any system. Especially the large systems (districts, provinces, countries) that Fullan is determined to impact.

Fullan’s “New Pedagogies” are more ubiquitous in theory and philosophies of education than he makes it out to be. I’m not saying Fullan is putting a watermelon on his head (3); I’m definitely with him on this.

Peeling the pineapple (4) or solving the cucumber (5) is another story. If you think it’s an easy task, you are probably traveling on mayonnaise (6), but if you think it’s impossible, you are going crazy about potato chips (7). How do you actually make this a reality? Fullan & Langworthy offered this comparative model as a potential answer.

Doak’s “Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology” article is a hand on the wheel (8) in understanding how Deep Learning might manifest itself in a classroom, or influence planning. It highlights three learning theories: situated cognition, socially-shared cognition, and distributed cognition. Alongside each, a sample from my own practice that I believe aligns with what each theory proposes. Do you agree? Let the hen go (9) and put your mouth on the trombone (10) in the comments!

Situated cognition

“Situated Cognition is a learning theory which supports the idea that learning occurs only when situated within a specific context” (Doak, n.d.).

Distributed cognition

“A student-centered approach to learning where the learners participate in a systematically designed learning environment that supports interaction amongst its participants.” (Doak, n.d.).

Socially-shared cognition

“In this theory, cognition is also distributed, as sharing implies both that the learners are experiencing something together and that the learning which occurs is being divided and distributed between the participants in the learning community (Bell & Winn, 2000). These ideas of sharing are relevant to this theory because no two learners can ever experience a situation in the exact same way as another learner.” (Doak, n.d.)

In international schools, for the most part, teachers have the cheese and the knife in their hands (11) to make Fullan’s vision (and the IB mission) a reality. How will you?

List of Brazilian Portuguese idiomatic expressions

(1) Chover no molhado: to repeat what has already been said without adding anything new.
(2) Colocar a carroça na frente dos bois: to do something backward, or to get ahead of oneself.
(3) Colocar uma melancia na cabeça: do something to attract attention.
(4) Descascar abacaxi: to tackle a problem.
(5) Resolver um pepino: to tackle a problem.
(6) Viajar na maionese: say something crazy.
(7) Pirar na batatinha: propose something crazy.
(8) Mão na roda: useful.
(9) Soltar a franga: release your inhibitions.
(10) Botar a boca no trombone: make something public, speak proudly.
(11) Ter a faca e o queijo na mão: have the means and resources to pull something off.

4 thoughts on “Start with the why, I get it, but…

  1. Hey, Luiz,

    I loved everything about your post. I only write comments on other COETAILers’ posts after my post is complete because I don’t want to be influenced before publishing. I am glad I am doing it that way because whenever I read something you write, I end up double guessing all of what I just made up my mind on. Thanks for that. Am I right when assuming that you LOVE the IB program? I enjoyed reading all the idiomatic expressions. I have been practicing Portuguese this year and those just added to my repertoire. What a cool video to show your Educational Philosophy! Did you put it together? If so, what tool did you use?

    I agree with you that international schools have all the means and resources needed to make deep learning a reality. I wonder if you are considering human resources as part of those resources, though. What is stopping us from seeing this in every classroom and not just a few? I wonder if our obstacles may be more in The New Change Leadership chapter as opposed to The New Pedagogies one.

    • Hey Luis!

      I love road trips, scuba diving and golf. I appreciate the IB. =)
      I think I’ve got more than a few reasons, but here are a couple.

      As far as global organizations go, they’re pretty ‘grassroots’ in their approach. Teachers are involved in marking student work, moderating each other’s work, sharing at IB conferences, training fellow teachers; even students are involved in making the system better through their participation at IB student conferences. Consultants are the norm in old models and in many other industries when they want to improve systems, and the IB has, for the most part, avoided falling for that trap.

      Secondly, I am not aware of any other educational system as engaged in visioning and communicating how they impact the world. Cambridge Assessment (inspiring name, isn’t it?) doesn’t even have a vision statement on their website. CollegeBoard’s Advanced Placement: “The College Board’s mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity”. Read: we want you to pass tests so you can get into college. For me, I want to work at an organization that has a clear aspiration to where it wants to be, and I like that the IB’s mission is person-oriented, and not results oriented.

      Without a mission to hang on to, I’d feel adrift and feeling my colleagues would be pulling in whichever other directions. I don’t mean it necessarily needs to be an IB school, but if the mission is a 20-bullet point on a wall that nobody knows what it says, I’ll pass, thanks.

      I hired a designer to make the video using Fiverr because I needed it in 24 hours. I’ve got on my to-do list to learn how to create those explainer videos — it shouldn’t be hard. I played around with a really old one when I was in grade 10., and it was all drag-and-drop.

      Certainly, human resources are part of that, too. To work at an international school, teachers already need to be more open-minded, but it’s a lifestyle that can spoil people, too. It’s easy to get by with the minimum. With that said, there are some outstanidng teachers I have had a chance to work with. For sure, the challenge is the ‘laggards’ in the amoeba of change.

  2. Hi Luiz, 
                    Of course, I loved your post (who wouldn’t?)! It is very entertaining: I enjoyed trying to guess what the expressions really meant before looking down for the explanation. Having fun when learning something new is really powerful. My favorite is defitely the first one you mentioned: “Raining on what is already wet “, probably because the meaning is clearer, and can refer to a lot of situations we encounter.
    Being also in an international environment, I sometimes had conversations with colleagues that would not understand what I said or vice versa! Usually, because we translated literally phrases that don’t make sense in the other language!  For example,  “It is raining cats and dogs” in English doesn’t translate in French: non, il ne pleut jamais des chats et des chiens (!) mais “Il pleut des hallebardes” = It rains some halberds (!).  

                Thank you for sharing Doak’s Emerging Theories of Learning and the Role of Technology: it is very informative and the “Situated Cognition” particularly resonated with me! The fact that you illustrated each ones with one of your own teaching strategies helped my understanding “in a real context”. 
    I read your answer to Luis’ comment and share your view on the IB program. Obviously I don’t know it so well, as I am don’t teach IB courses. My exposure to the IB program mainly lies with the Extended Essays, being a MHS Teacher-Librarian. I love that the IB gives so much importance to the research process and forces student to adopt an ethical behavior. I spend a lot of time teaching them how to perform an academic level research, how to create a bibliography, and cite their sources correctly. Not the most fun part, but there is no way around it, and my rewards come from alumni who tell me that they were ready for university in that domain, unlike the majority of students.
    As an alumni parent (’16 and 19) I also particularly like the IB vision, that is, as you mention, “engaged in visioning and communicating how they impact the world”
                  If I can mention one small trick: when you add a link in a blog post, you can make sure that it will open in another tab. That way, you reader doesn’t “loose” your page (and you don’t loose a reader!). In the edit mode (Link option), tick the box “Open link in a new tab”. You might know this already but forgot about it, but thought I would share it with you anyway… 

    Take care – and enjoy you new job! 

    • Thank you for reading and leaving such a thorough and personal comment! I appreciate it.

      Thanks also for the tip on opening links on a separate tab. I had assumed this was the default on my new template and it seems that is not the case. Great catch!

      The work you do with academic honesty is at the center of the IB philosophy: students need it to understand what principled behavior in academia looks like, and it helps them become more knowledgeable as they evaluate sources and avoid saying things that are untrue or unverifiable in their work.

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