No One Wants to Look Bad in Public

To ready myself for teaching the first year seminar (now Tackling a Wicked Problem) a second time, I’m planning to read How Humans Learn (Joshua Eyler, 2018).

It’s one of six books recommended by the leaders of the Cluster Pedagogy Learning Community, a group of Plymouth State faculty who committed themselves to advancing certain learning and teaching methods during the upcoming year.

But instead of simply reading it, I decided to be more rigorous:

  1. Read
  2. Take notes
  3. Reflect
  4. Blog

Annotation and reflection, of course, will help me comprehend the author’s most useful takeaways, but why blog them as well?

One answer is found in Project-Based Learning (PBL), a pedagogical style that vests learners with authority to guide their own practical, problem-solving activities. Learning is more complete and effective, PBL advocates hold, when both the problem examined and the solution proposed are of real-world import.

One component of PBL, Public Product, is described by the Buck Institute for Education this way:

“a public product adds greatly to [Project-Based Learning’s] motivating
power and encourages high-quality work. Think
of what often happens when students make
presentations to their classmates and teacher. The
stakes are not high, so they may slack off, not take
it seriously, and not care as much about the quality
of their work. But when students have to present
or display their work to an audience beyond the
classroom, the performance bar raises, since no
one wants to look bad in public
.” (emphasis added)

Buck Institute for Education. (2015). Gold standard PBL: Essential project
     design elements [Pamphlet]. Buck Institute for Education.

No one wants to look bad in public. This aversion, the thinking goes, fosters a motivating anxiety. When one’s work is held up to examination and scrutiny, that work is likely to be of higher quality. That is the spirit in which I created this blog.