“Flipping” a classroom is wonderful slang; as soon as we learn what it means, the image sticks. Flipping 1.0 is about having students do work outside the classroom that they can do without a teacher present to free class time for personal interaction, questions, discussion, and the kind of face-to-face help that teachers can provide. Flipping is revolutionizing learning in many classrooms, all to the good. But I have always been a bit queasy that we see flipped classrooms as an end when it is only a step on the path.
Let’s really flip learning; let’s call this Flip 2.0. Better yet, let’s call this BackFlipped Learning because we are going “back” to Dewey and the other giants of the Progressive Era who taught us that it is student ownership of learning that leads to engagement and, ultimately, academic success. BackFlipping the learning experience (learning no longer takes place just in the classroom) means reversing the control and ownership of learning from the teacher to the student.
As I posted last week, people like Bo Adams, Jill Gough and many others are focusing in on the transfer of learning control from teachers to students, of re-mapping our industrial-aged pedagogy to enable teachers as lead-learners and co-learners with their students, not preachers to their students. Flipping 1.0 is one of the really important arrows in our quiver to re-map our pedagogy, but it is still just an arrow. Great teachers help their students to gather a full quiver of arrows: resources, skills, content knowledge, judgment, insight, curiosity, and creativity. Our goal as educators should always be on the archer, the student, helping them learn about how and when they should let those arrows fly. BackFlipping is a re-set of the relationship between student, teacher, and knowledge that states it is up to the student, not the teacher, to shoot those arrows. As I wrote in The Falconer: “Resources and abilities are like the arrows in a quiver; the ability and willingness to ask questions are like a long bow. Without the bow, the arrows are just a lot of wood, feathers, and sharp little points.” Without the responsibility to know and the freedom to choose when and where to shoot the arrows, the archer is just another mechanical soldier launching pieces of wood into the sky.