One of my big goals with Pre-Internship was to learn more about classroom management. We recently read “The Great Respect Deception“, and looked at an interactive classroom management tool called “Classroom Dojo“. The Great Respect Deception was a really fascinating article because it poked holes in the myth that simplifying your list of rules to one or two platitudes does little equip students when they’re trying to figure out where the line between acceptable and unacceptable are. As the author says “Platitudes cannot be enforced because there is no line to cross, there’s nothing predictable for students to understand, and they’re too vague to be useful.” I don’t think it’s fair the students when we put some much faith in various forms of common sense that we expect them to have, but haven’t taught to them yet. Curwin concludes his article by defining the difference between values and rules, and that values are something that the rules should bring us closer to.
This brings us to the philosophy behind Classroom Dojo. I can honestly say Classroom Dojo intrigues me. The reason it intrigues me is because I’m fairly confident that it really works, and Matt is probably right when he says it can work in any classroom. I think it probably does quite well in achieving what it wants to, which is to illicit compliancy from your students.
However, there are some obvious problematic implications to it. It is essentially Skinner’s approach to behaviourism in it’s purist form and it essentially teaches children that learning is only worth while as long as there are rewards. The problem with this is that we get students to do what they should not because they believe they should do it, but because we are bribing them to do it. So the question is does the end justify the means? I think anyone would agree that in an ideal world it would be better for students to pursue learning simply because they love it. Not because of whatever form of instant gratification that may be paid out to them. But maybe this approach isn’t so different to how the world really works anyway? We all grow up and pursue a place in the workforce, knowing that if we perform adequately we’ll be rewarded through a wage or salary. We may even be rewarded with a measure of social prestige.
As a pre-service teacher I’m not naive to the fact that I lack experience, and maybe that ideal that I cling to of teaching learners that learn because they love to learn is not really realistic? Teachers and students both are competing with a huge variety of socio-economic backgrounds and home situations. This Classroom Dojo app may be the game changer that some teachers are looking for to engage students that really need something more. The app gives the students constant feedback as to how they’re doing in class, which I suppose gives more opportunity for them to improve. This app may be something that proves to be an investment in a class that ideally wouldn’t need it anymore after a time.
I think may main hesitation with Class Dojo is that I don’t believe it’s the only way to improve classroom management, and probably not the best way. If you want classroom management to improve then logically getting your students more invested in what they’re learning should accomplish that. A more inquiry based learning approach has proven to do just that. Inquiry has a way of achieving the idea we chase after in actually getting students to fall in love with discovery, curiosity, and the process of learning. But I also know there are a lot more dimensions at play in any given teachers situation, and not every teacher may have access to the support needed to get inquiry working effectively.
Classroom Dojo is certainly something I’d be willing to try out. I think students will love it, but I fear it may just be a patch job instead of real fix.