Classroom Caffeine

A Conversation with Rob Tierney

February 01, 2022 Lindsay Persohn Season 2 Episode 19
Classroom Caffeine
A Conversation with Rob Tierney
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Robert J. Tierney talks to us about waves of thinking in education research, students as agents of change, and crossing borders in new ways by considering our approach to ideas. Rob is known for his work in the areas of reading and the reading-writing connection, theories of literacy instruction and research, and teaching, learning, and researching with digital literacies, and global knowledge mobilization. He has worked in the United States, Canada, Australia, and China. Rob has published numerous books and scholarly articles focused on literacy education, teacher development, cross-national educational research, educational assessment and equity. He recently published A History of Literacy Instruction: Waves of Research and Practice with well-known literacy scholar and former Classroom Caffeine guest, P. David Pearson. Rob currently serves as the President of the Board of the International Literacy Association. Rob is Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia.

To cite this episode:
Persohn, L. (Host). (2022, Feb 1). A conversation with Rob Tierney. (Season 2, No. 19) [Audio podcast episode]. In Classroom Caffeine Podcast series. https://www.classroomcaffeine.com/guests. DOI: 10.5240/27CF-EBB9-5745-102A-9927-L

Lindsay Persohn:

Education Research has a problem. The work of brilliant education researchers often doesn't reach the practice of brilliant teachers. But the questions and challenges from teachers practice sometimes don't become the work of education researchers. Classroom Caffeine is here to help. In a new episode every other week, I talk with an education researcher or a classroom teacher about what they have learned from their work in education, and what questions they still pursue. In this episode, Dr. Robert J. Tierney talks to us about waves of thinking in education research, students as agents of change, and crossing borders in new ways by considering our approach to ideas. Rob is known for his work in the areas of reading and the reading-writing connection, theories of literacy, instruction and research, teaching, learning and researching with digital literacies and global developments in literacies. He has worked in the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa, and China. Rob has published numerous books and scholarly articles focused on literacy education, teacher development, cross national educational research, educational assessment and equity. He recently published A History of Literacy Education Waves of Research and Practice with well known literacy scholar and former Classroom Caffeine guest P. David Pearson. Rob currently serves as the President of the Board of the International Literacy Association. Rob is Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. For more information about our esteemed guest, stay tuned to the end of this episode. So pour a cup of your favorite morning drink. And join me your host, Lindsay Persohn for Classroom Caffeine research to energize your teaching practice. Rob, thank you for joining me. Welcome to the show.

Rob Tierney:

Well, Lindsay, thank you for the invite.

Lindsay Persohn:

So I have a few questions for you today. From your own experiences and education, will you share with us one or two moments that inform your thinking now?

Rob Tierney:

I think my journey in the literacy area, which was once sort of like the reading area has been pretty extraordinary. From my perspective, there have been two major developments that I've been a participant in, more than just a witness, I think I've been a contributor to two major movements. The first movement was a shift away from behaviorism, to cognition, to metacognition, to sort of viewing the reader not so much as a person involved in reception, and just the ability to basically pronounce words to a creative meaning maker. That was huge. That that shift, which occurred, you know, some people Howard Gardener refer to it as a zeitgeist. I felt like it was a major wave. And I tend to use the word wave to describe these developments rather than paradigm shifts, because I don't think the there's a total shift, I think there's some sort of seepage. But for a teacher, it really meant a shift from approaching a reader with an orientation to assembling their array of skills, typically, through a scope and sequence chart, to which students were basically taught to mastery of skills, to a different orientation, building upon their psycholinguistic work, the cognitive work, the metacognitive work, where what you're trying to do was to engage the student, their own motives for reading their own purposes, their predictions, their background knowledge, to connect with their world. And so reading shifted from something rather that was done on an assembly line to something rather it was really focused upon connecting to the to the students background of experiences, their engagement and their predictions. And indeed a little tidbit in there that if you want to really get a sense of whether a child is understanding what is reading, Ulric Neisser, who was famous as one of the sort of the early pioneers of cognitive psychology, he pointed this out. Ask a student to make predictions. If they can make reasonable predictions, you've got a good sense they're understanding what they're reading. But that shift coupled with what happened with the view with what was happening in writing research that I was very attracted to, and a bit of an oddity in the reading field at that time, but I was paying attention to people studying the writing process. Donald Graves work in New Hampshire. Indeed, I had a couple of people who work with Donald Graves in a class I was teaching it at Harvard at one point Mary Ellen Jacoby and Susan Sowers, who introduced me to Don Graves and Don Murray, and took me to Atkinson Academy, where I watched young writers wrestle with ideas in ways that I wish readers would. They would pause and ask themselves questions. It was a real student agency strategy orientation, where the the they were obviously involved in making meaning, and one of my key areas of interest for whole life, I guess, has been, how do students make meaning. And to be part of the cognitive revolution, psycholinguistic work, the work in writing that eventually connected it to reading was integral, I think, in moving reading to being such a creative experience. And some of you may have read an article I wrote some time ago with my colleague, David Pearson, Toward a Model of Reading as Composing. And that sort of shift in orientation to working with the meanings that students were building, that were sort of coupled with the college revolution, the metacognitive revolution, the reading his writing, I think was extraordinary. You know, some people sort of say it began in 1956, at a small conference in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where Noam Chomsky challenged traditional syntactic stuff and, and other people, Herbert Simon was there talking about his work in AI. That was where it began. But in my lifetime, it really began in the early 70s. With the creation for the Centers of the Study Reading and some of the people I had the good chance to work with Rand Spiro, Dick Anderson, William Brewer, and Ann Brown. And that concept also, which I thought was part of that sort of revolution, that comprehension wasn't just wasn't an outgrowth of reading, that meaning making was integral to reading in an ongoing fashion and that we should be helping students learn how to learn. And you know, Goodman's work, which sort of moved us away from that stage wise model, that Jeanne Chall, I think, made a mistake in proposing that you first learn to read, then you read to learn. I think the work really clearly established that if you want students engaged in in reading at all ages, they should be involved in being treated as meaning makers, as creators of meaning, and so I thought that period there, the 70s into the 80s, were extraordinary. And then the the next movement, which I found, connected to what has constantly been interrupting my life in a sense, was the movement to social, coupled with the movement to critical, which connected with in a sense, to digital, some extent, but to my interest in cross cultural issues, diversity issues, and global considerations. So there's the second period that we're in right now, where we're sort of moving to a, sort of the almost Freirean and concept of helping students read their world, looking at through a socio political lens, and truly reading the world from an ecological perspective, where we're trying to give students agency, which goes beyond the page. So we're encouraging students to be in a sense, at least an advocate in their life for for change. And I think that fits with what what I sense is a mood right now that we realize that this planet is for the students we're teaching now. We're preparing them to be, in a sense, the caretakers of this planet in ways that we haven't been. You know, so taken by William Shatner, and his comments when it came back in the that space, spacecraft where he talked about the thin blanket, blue blanket, that that seemed to be in jeopardy. And and, you know, made a sort of a call for us to sort of rethink that. And as I think about teachers today, who are you know, I think the teachers are like the frontline workers, in one sense essential frontline workers, they're problem solvers. But they're, they're the persons who are connecting students to the social. So reading isn't just something in the head reading, it's something rather, in their communities, in the world. And it connects to the critical developments. And I think the sort of global orientation, which is where I am, and why I spend a lot of time, particularly working with Indigenous Australians, sometimes in New Zealand, where the Maori have taken a major lead in this, the these issues, and in Africa, where the literacy programs, their connect to real matters in their life, life expectancy, food and water supply, infant mortality, and other issues. And so, these movements, these waves, and I've described them as almost like two waves, but in actuality, they're more than two waves, but they do seem to come together. And so when I think about characterizing the moments in my life, the two most significant developments, I think, well I know have been those movements. And within those movements, there have been specific moments. I remember, related to both the meaning making wave and the social wave, sharing a room with my friend David Pearson at a conference where we got into a debate about tests. And the extent to which testing was the tail that was wagging the curriculum dog. And David was talking about developing a new test and I said, I, I don't think developing a new test is going to help us. And I asked myself a question that night, if I was to assess assessment, how would I assess it? And then it dawned on me, that one of the key things missing from assessment is a commitment to helping kids assess themselves. And that led to my work in portfolios. And here, you know, I have been the beneficiary of colleagues who have helped me think through issues, but also students who have, you know, triggered thoughts. And when we started with portfolios, and kids were sharing their development and their growth. They were interested in connecting what they were doing in their reading with their real lives, how their attitude to drugs and alcohol had changed, and a range of other social issues. It wasn't as reading as an end unto to itself as literacy as a window into the world. But even more than that, as kids talked about each other's literacies with portfolios, they will want you to give them real advice about how they might change their life, to make it more positive. And so, you know, the place we are in literacy today, is the one disconnected from the world in the confines of school, done in an assembly like fashion. But to some extent, I think we're into forms of how do we help our students become agents of change in their communities? How do we breathe life into schools from communities? And how do we breathe back into the communities life from the schools. And so I found a little bit like Luis Moll, with some of the things that he was doing in Arizona with these programs after school trying to connect with the Barrios in Tucson. And that's the sort of work I've been trying to do in places like Africa, in the indigenous communities. I am really bothered by the fact that too often, students who are indigenous in Australia, have been taught basically a very academic curriculum that looks still very much like the colonial curriculum that the British brought into Australia for assimilation purposes. So I'm, I really think that we we have to challenge the hegemony of socially reproducing white privilege nand and I'm not sure we're ready for that. The trials and tribulations that the NAPE committee in reading had related to shifting to a framework that was more socio cultural based, gives you a sense of the extent to which people have dug their heels in. In reading researcher or literacy researcher, look at the citations in our journals, and how many of them are from minority communities? How many of them from the south, from Asia? They're not. They're, we're basically citing ourselves. And in a sense, we're sort of perpetuating this, I think, sort of white assimilative role. Our feminist scholars have pointed out that relative to the extent to which our citations tend to be not just white, but white male. And so I think we have to, which I find myself doing on occasion, in my career, looking in the mirror, and sort of asking myself, well, what am I doing? And how can I sort of shift out of my complicitous and make a difference. And so, in terms of what I'm sort of saying to teachers, I guess I and, and this comes from working with teachers with whom I love working, is, the key things that I tried to sort of emphasize is, as a teacher, keep your eyes on the students. And, and when you do that, I think you become less inhibited and more generative in your thinking. And think about the students more broadly, have a little bit more of a 360 degree view, where you think about their worlds outside of school and ways to connect with them. I wish we're doing more of that in literacy. You know, some of our colleagues like Vicki Purcell Gates, I think her work in South America was important in that it has been important in that regard. But I think we could be doing a lot more of sort of project based stuff. I find the Reggio Emilia stuff out of Italy, and their orientation to projects and community engagement as really sort of representing what I could imagine would really improve what we're doing. I think too often we get locked into a preset curriculum that imposed upon us rather than one that's there's more organic. My big advice, as you know, keep your eyes on the students, how are they? What are they asking their questions, I was working with a teacher in China, who said to me while I was watching his teaching, and it looked very child centered in terms of the activities they were doing. But in reality, all the activities were constructed, were framed by the teacher. And I said to him, you know, have you ever thought about beginning your lesson with the students questions? And he said, Well, are you sure they're going to get the important ideas? And, typical response and, and in language classrooms, but I find that even more difficult because in language teaching, they often teach kids in a fairly restricted, narrow fashion. So anyhow, a week later, I'm back at the school and I'm in the science teacher classroom. And essentially, he's got a crowd of teaching was watching him. And he started his lesson. And it was a lesson about mirrors with asking the kids, what questions do you have about mirrors? And I thought, Oh, my God, he's really taking a big risk. And, you know, I felt a little bit responsible for it. But he had said to me, Well, Robert, it's worth investigating. I'm a scientist. And I said, Okay, well, I should have had more faith in kids, because within a couple of minutes, he had more questions than he could handle. But what he did was also extraordinary. He didn't answer their questions. And then he gave them mirrors, enough mirrors, so they had to pair up and asked them to explore with mirrors, answers to their questions. And now this is in a Chinese classroom, which are typically pretty structured and relatively quiet. Well, the noise level in the classroom, as the kids argued with each other as they were doing little experiments with the mirrors, this is about a third grade classroom, by the way. And the arguments between boys and girls, were boys weren't allowed to be the authority. It was great to see. It was amazing. And he asked the kids to share what they thought and handled the the whole lesson. Well, the people watching had questions for the teacher after Well, what did you think the noise got a little out of control? He said, no, no. He said, that was good noise. And that was, you know, so interesting. And then one of the observers and this was in Beijing this was happening. And he was from the Beijing Ministry of Education, I guess. He said, But I worry that they don't, they're not covering the most important issues. And his response was, Well, I think the most important thing for kids in science are the questions they're asking and the research they do. And I thought, Wow, what an incredible response. And so in a sense, that sort of exemplified the sorts of things that I wish we would embrace a little bit more, that a long winded answer to your question.

Lindsay Persohn:

Well, the kind of literacy that I hold in my mind the the literacy that is connected the students worlds, that responds to the questions they have, that helps them to solve the problems that they're living with, that is to me what true literacy is. And as you highlighted, that's not always what literacy is in school. Early in what you said, you mentioned connections between reading and writing. And in my experience in schools, often those connections aren't made explicit or aren't drawn across those subject areas. We have time for writing, we have time for reading, and the two don't meet as often as we might hope they would. So I really appreciate that perspective on what literacy could look like in schools and how it could really support students, not only their their learning in a school setting, but they're learning for life. Because isn't that what we want for every student is to walk away from school with the skills, the strategies, the attitudes, the dispositions, in order to approach any challenge they may come across in their life? And when they don't know the answer, they can identify the question and begin to explore and utilize the tools they need in order to find responses to those questions. So I really appreciate those big connecting ideas that you share with us.

Rob Tierney:

I sometimes find in our art classes, teachers doing a lot more of those sorts of connections. At least in Australia, in the indigenous school with which I work sometimes Menindee, which is out quite a way out from any other major center, tt's the art teachers who are doing a lot of connections to the cultural practices within the communities. And I, I wish we would be doing more of that. Moreover, I wish these teachers were given license to develop a curriculum organically, that truly engage the kids and connections and bridges between school and home.

Lindsay Persohn:

Yeah. So Rob, what do you want listeners to know about your work?

Rob Tierney:

Let me talk a little bit about how I approach ideas. And I've done this ever since I was a teacher. I used to spend more time trying to think about how I'm going to approach my students than I did the regiment of the actual specifics of teaching, because I felt like the big frameworks would would be the the key facilitators and, and so I'd spent a lot of time mulling. And I find I still do that same sort of mulling. Most mornings, like this morning, I'll go out for a run and I love those moments on a run, and I'll run in the woods of British Columbia, along these wonderful trails, but there are moments there where my mind just wanders off, to think about issues, and to try to come to think about them in new sorts of ways. And sometimes I feel like I've had a revelation. And then when I get back from my run, that wasn't a revelation at all. But sometimes I do. And so I spent a lot of time mulling about things, and oftentimes, I will move to talking with other people about these ideas. And it might be people in medicine, talking about the, you know, their practices and, and how sure they are of the research in it. And typically, they're not that sure they just like educators. They they use what information they can to help them think through things, but not necessarily to prescribe, as we would hope doctors are able to do but in actuality, and doctors are oftentimes not totally sure. You know, the COVID thing's giving us a good sense of our attempt to sort of solve the COVID problem. I have areas of interest, where I find myself having to sort of move outside of the mainstream. I've sort of mentioned already that I moved out of the mainstream in terms of being interested in writing. And another place that I moved out of the mainstream and, and typically I've I've had wonderful colleagues in these areas, who have added immeasurably to my understanding. I've always been fascinated with a sense that a reader has been in that world of the text, and how imageful it was. And I've sort of thought, Well, how do we deal with this text-world that the kids involved in? Because I thought it was farily inane to ask them that the classic sorts of questions. And I sort of think to myself, Well, how would a director of theater approach the creation of that world and actors being in that world or character has been in that world? And, you know, obviously, some films we've all been to see, you know, Woody Allen plays around with that concept a lot in his in his movies. But I wondered about, well, how do they help actors get into these different sorts of roles? What are the what's the nature of that world? And I've always felt like we needed to engage with our readers with a little bit more appreciation that their journeys in the world may be idiosyncratic, and that we need better pedagogy for purposes of exploring those dimensions. And so quite often, I've sort of gone outside my world to the world of drama, to interacting with people like, who's now passed away, Dorothy Heath Coker, Cecily O'Neill, who's a London drama educator, in the US people like Brian Edmiston, and Pat Enciso, and others who have worked in that sort of that frame, and tried to sort of begin to sort of delve into those areas like that. In the cultural area, I find myself also moving out of that to engage with my indigenous colleagues. And, wow, have they given me an education of what they experienced, and what they experience today. And so in a sense, by moving out of those areas, I find myself being able to get understandings that don't come my way by just sticking in the field as it is, because the field as it is, hasn't really grappled with the issues that my indigenous colleagues friends out of friends out of New Zealand and out of Australia do. And what's also interesting about about my friends, is that they are trusting, they're very receptive to my being an ally, of supporting their initiatives, wanting to learn what they can from me that would be useful, but also wanting me to understand what needs to change, and to understand what needs to change for them. And to be careful that what I'm doing isn't about me. And so, you know, like the science teacher, sometimes I will sort of say, I, you know, I think this is where I sort of part ways with Vygotsky. Because sometimes I like to challenge the Zone, I'm in to think differently about things. Because I love reveling in that in the new way of thinking about things. And I love reading people who are exploring these issues in new sorts of ways. And some of the work for example, right now in the digital arena, about the participation in the digital world sort of smacks of some of the stuff that interested me in the drama world. Likewise, the conversations going on about ecological pedagogy and our planetary existence sort of connects us with it critical Freirean reading the world's types of things, but also the indigenous space, where indigenous colleagues have been writing about this stuff quite considerably lately, but whereby I think we can all be educated because this is not just about indigenous people. This is about learning to cross borders. You know, the work that Kris Gutierrez and some of the language she's using to describe it. Like drawing from the language of comedians, of stepping over the line, and young Black Africans, or doesn't have to be Black Africans ability to move across borders, and in the workout of bilingualism, which is sort of stressing to us that we're all multilingual. Even though I'm pathetic with languages, we are multilingual. And we need to capitalize upon our multilingualism in terms of bringing those capabilities into the classroom, but also building upon them as we teach people to engage with our own diversities. And so as I think about that second question, I think there are interesting things that exist in pockets outside of the mainstream reading area, and some of them are sort of overlapping with it, that you I think people would really profit from getting involved in right now. As I said, I find myself profiting from engaging in in indigenous space. But also I spent a lot of time working across borders, relative to try to understand local epistemologies and the debates that are occurring and those things I think, helping me think through issues. Oftentimes, I'm writing about this stuff, not for my reading colleagues, but possibly primarily for myself because oftentimes I I never sort of move these things to publication.

Lindsay Persohn:

So you mentioned this idea of crossing borders. And I feel like in so many ways, you've given us things to think with when it comes to crossing borders. And I'm thinking of this maybe from the perspective of a classroom teacher. And I'm wondering if you have any helpful hints, tips, or suggestions for how teachers could do this kind of work, particularly if they feel they're working in a restrictive environment. And I'm afraid that all too many teachers are working in very restrictive environments that not only is it restrictive when it comes to curriculum, but sort of naturally, the more time you spend in that kind of environment, I think it also begins to restrict the way you think outside of the box. So any thoughts on how we can get there, particularly if teachers are feeling a bit stifled when it comes to how they can think of their students as agents of change? Think about the approach when perhaps an approach is dictated to them? How can we begin to cross those boundaries ourselves?

Rob Tierney:

When I work with teachers, and I still work with teachers, particularly out of the country, I have been working with some teachers in Nigeria, some teachers in Australia, and some teachers in China. My approach with teachers is even though they appear to want me to not approach them this way, is to build upon what they're doing, rather than suggested and what they what I think they should do. Indeed, I took with me to one of the schools in China where I was working, and I wanted to not hit hit a hit this guy with a book on his head because he he fell into that role when, were the teachers were obviously asking, What do you think what I'm doing is right or wrong? And I never do that. I tried to sort of get them to what do you think? And so I always get nervous, because we we tend to be living in a world where people want to impose upon teachers what they might do. I think, however, teachers operate with a degrees of freedom. And if they, and they find this degrees of freedom, somehow, and particularly in COVID, the sort of the problem solving that I saw teachers doing, the adjustments that they were doing, and and I I don't think they work out what I call it, canned answers. They were learning from each other, they were coming up with creative ways of doing things. I thought it was pretty extraordinary. And so my advice is, you need to find people, collaborators, people who will help you think through these issues. You know, I remember I mentioned to you earlier, at one point, I was visiting Atkinson Academy, and I remember this little kid I was talking to, I think it was about a fourth grade. And he was struggling with his writing. It was it was getting a little too long. He said, Ah, I don't know what to do, what could you suggest? And I said, Well, you could do this and you could do that. I wanted to give him a couple options. And then I said, What do you think you will do? And he said, Well, I don't think I'll do what you told me to do. And I thought, wow, what a great response. And I remember I used to interact with we used to conference sometimes with each other and this was Don Graves, who was sort of like sort of The Godfather, one of the godfathers, the two Don's, Don Murray and Don Graves, and I was talking to Don, I was working with some teachers and the teachers were struggling with the sorts of things that you were saying, and, and I said I was really perplexed. And he says, you I said, he said he seemed a little frustrated. So yeah, I feel frustrated. He says, Ah, those are wonderful moments. And I thought, you know, he hit the nail on the head. And, you know, Don had a background in counseling and therapy. And, you know, I think he brought that sort of attitude to it, looking for ways of moving forward building upon the analyses. But I do think one of the regressive things that has happened is and I haven't talked about this, that what I would call the Reform Movement, tended to push us back to a sort of a regulation approach. And I, I find that to be really problematic. Indeed, when I talk about the different periods and I talk about, I can associate different readers with them like back in the behaviourist period, we had this concept of the assembled reader, then we move to a strategic reader and the critical to an advocate reader, a digital reader. In the reform period, which still persist, you know, waves don't go away. I do think there's a desire to have a regulated reader. And I think what teachers have to do is find the spaces around that somehow. And I think that's where I get nervous about advice. Because what I might pursue relative to those spaces may not fit with the situation's of somebody else. And that's where I find myself before I, ideally, before I get involved with a school, and talking to them about possibilities, I love to spend some time in classrooms so that what I can do is build upon rather than displace what they're already doing.

Lindsay Persohn:

I think that's a very helpful and a very fair answer. Because, you know, it is impossible to know what teachers are facing in their local school environments. It's impossible to know what students, what their questions are without asking them. So I think that that makes a lot of sense. And what I think I hear you saying is that we all have to start where we are, we have to understand our own context, and then work to build upon that. But it also makes me think about how really the first step to making shifts in our teaching practice, if that's something we are aiming to do, and hopefully, with growth in mind, everyone is looking to to develop their practice. I think that, that what you share, there starting where you are, the first step in that is an awareness, right? It's an awareness that there are other ways to think about topics, there are ideas outside of the curriculum that's been handed to us. And then from there identifying where are these little spaces where maybe it's a tricky point in my day to day instruction, that I can then take what I'm learning from other sources from other ways of thinking, other ways of being, and bring that in. And I think that what can happen over time is when we create those spaces, identify kind of find and maybe drive apart those little spaces in our schedule, where we can then do what we feel is the most applicable and most meaningful work, that over time, we can begin to move toward an approach to teaching that is student centered, question driven, it is critical ways of thinking, it utilizes the best of what digital technologies have to offer, it does bring in other ways of knowing, other content areas. And and I think that, at least in my mind, the way to do that is to start small, and start in any any and every way we can in order to begin to shape a school day for students so that it is presenting opportunities for them to understand their role as agents of change and understand the ways that they can work in the world and maneuver to get what they want out of the lives they have ahead of them.

Rob Tierney:

Well, you know, it's not inconsistent with as I mentioned, Luis Moll's work, and [Norma] Gonzalez's, his work in Tucson, which found those sort of spaces were easier to create outside the school confines. What I personally think you can also find them, do them in the school confines as well. And sometimes they may appear to be on the margins of what you're doing teaching. But at times those those margins are more profound than than what some people might might think is his core. It's the same with you know, I think the the big fear I have about a lot of the stuff going on in beginning reading, is it's it's displacing reading for meaning, my encouragement for teachers is make sure what you're doing has meaning for the students, and, in that way, you know, can rest on their sort of shoulders. I do worry that this is where I part ways with my my colleague and friend, David, to some extent, although David's adjusted his thinking, I wasn't really big on the Gradual Release of Responsibility model, because I thought it it tend to at least initially, emphasize teacher modeling, rather than looking for ways by which students can explore their own worlds and find models for them, that now they've shift that, that to accommodate that type of thinking. But I sort of worry about that preset curriculum type of concept. And that's where I, as I said to you, I historically spend a lot of time mulling about ways to and in a sense, studying and getting advice.

Lindsay Persohn:

Of course, if we hand students something that reads as teacher centric, boring, disconnected from their lives, you know, it stands to reason that they will then be a bit less motivated to do those things. So putting that control back in into their hands, and also, as you said, into the hands of teachers to develop ideas within their own context, I think is so very Important.

Rob Tierney:

One of my, a person with who who did her doctorate with me, who was head of schools in around Columbus, Ohio, Dublin schools, I believe, she was studying kids developing their own criteria for judging their literacy development. And I remember she said to me once, I don't think it's going well Rob. The kids seem to be arguing. And I said, Well, let's look at the arguments. And as we looked at the arguments across time, the increasing sophistication of the criteria they were using was extraordinary. And so I have a tendency to think, if you create the conditions for learning, you can trust kids will become incredibly more sophisticated, in their, in what they learn, and including the strategies they engage in.

Lindsay Persohn:

Yeah, that's so important.

Rob Tierney:

But if people want to contact me, they're happy, I'm happy to share with them what I attempted to talk about, but didn't, which was not terribly satisfed with.

Lindsay Persohn:

I think I think you've done an incredible job of giving teachers a lot to think with. And I do want to ask you, is there anything else you want to say in response to that third question, given the challenges of today's educational climate? What message do you want teachers to hear?

Rob Tierney:

Oh, well, I I gotta say, first and foremost, my god, Thank you! You mean, you guys have done amazingly, through this unbelievably strange period. And segue into sort of learning how to operate in this sort of digital environment, you guys have been, you know, a teacher's have always been viewed as key. But I don't think people recognize the extent to which they're the problem solvers. And, you know, they're, they're involved in making sure that education is a place, which is sort of like a sanctuary, as a safe place. And I mean, in these times, with this generation of young people, who are so committed to ensuring the health of our planet, you know, I, I just want to say I appreciate it, but I also envy you, because you you are working with a generation that seems to want to be sure that they protect the interest of all of us. So, so that's, that's all I wanted to say. Thank you.

Lindsay Persohn:

Wonderful message. Well, Rob, I thank you so much for your time today. I thank you for your thoughts that you shared with us. And I thank you for your tremendous contributions to the field of education.

Rob Tierney:

I don't know. I'm a little bit obsessed by it. So, so I it's quite a bit of it's self indulgent.

Lindsay Persohn:

Well, we all benefit. So thank you so much. Dr. Robert Tierney is known for his work in the areas of reading and the reading writing connection, theories of literacy instruction and research, teaching, learning and researching with digital literacies, and global developments in literacy. Rob has published numerous books and scholarly articles focused on literacy education, teacher development, cross-national educational research, and educational assessment and equity. Rob currently serves as the President of the Board of the International Literacy Association. He recently published A History of Literacy Education, Waves of Research and Practice with P. David Pearson. He currently serves as the Lead Editor for The International Encyclopedia of Education, and has served as Editor of Reading Research Quarterly, and as an editorial board member to the American Educational Research Journal, Educational Researcher, the British Educational Research Journal, Journal of Literacy Research, and Reading Research Quarterly. Rob has worked in the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa, and China. He has received research funding for various US government and Canadian agencies. Rob has been engaged in projects for UNESCO in Africa, Children's Television Workshop, Apple computers, the World Bank, and various foundations and university consortium groups globally across America and the Asia Pacific region. In Canada, Rob served as the President of the Association of Canadian Dean's of education, where he guided the formulation of the General Accord, a National Accord on Teacher Education, and a National Accord on Education Research. In Australia, he's been actively involved in national, state and local teacher education, educational research, and indigenous efforts, including work with the Association of Australia Council of Dean's of Education and affiliates. During his time in the US, he was President of the Literacy Research Association and Chair of the National Assembly of Research for the National Council of Teachers of English. He has been the recipient of a number of international and national awards, including the WS Gray Citation of Merit Award for contributions to Literacy Education, American Council of Teacher Education Award for contributions to teacher education, and Beijing Normal University Award for contributions to international research collaborations. In 2000, he was inducted in the Reading Hall of Fame. In Canada, he received an award and lifetime membership in the Association of Canadian Dean's of Education for his work. He was a Professor and former Dean of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia, an honorary professor and immediate past Dean of the Faculty of Education and Social Work at the University of Sydney, a Visiting Distinguished Scholar at Beijing Normal University, and a Conjoint Professor of the Wollotuka Center at the University of Newcastle. Rob is Professor Emeritus and Dean Emeritus of the Faculty of Education at the University of British Columbia. You can reach Rob at rob.tierney@ubc.ca. That's R O B dot T I E R N E Y@ubc.ca and you can learn more about his work at his website, LiteracyResearchCommons.org. For the good of all students, good research should inform good practice and vice versa. Listeners are invited to respond to an episode, learn more about our guests, search past episodes, or request a topic or conversation with a specific person through our website at ClassroomCaffeine.com. If you've learned something today, or just enjoyed listening, please be encouraged to talk about what you heard with your colleagues, and subscribe and review this podcast through your podcast provider. As always, I raise my mug to you teachers. Thanks for joining me.