Searching For The Perfect Spaghetti Sauce
In this article we look at discussing flipped learning as a perfect recipe, taking food for thought from the story told by Malcolm Gladwell in his famous TED talk on “Choice, Happiness and Spaghetti Sauce.”
Teachers and students can be said to fall into three broad categories: those who like their “spaghetti sauce” (aka flipped classroom experiences) plain, those who like it spicy, and then there are those who like it extra chunky!
It has to be said, there is no one perfect spaghetti sauce that has all the right ingredients for everyone, or in this context, “there is no one perfect way to flip your classroom.”. We know that people may not be able to express exactly what they want or need; especially if they’ve never tasted something different to what they know, they will not know if they’d like it or not. Additionally, we know that just as all people have different tastes and levels of satisfaction, diversity and choice can provide greater opportunities for acceptance.
In the spaghetti sauce analogy, if presented with someone else’s idea of a “perfect” sauce, we are probably less prepared to taste, test, or try the sauce. Preconceived ideas about likes and dislikes, fear of the unknown “ingredients” or past experiences with these ingredients, and an underlying displeasure at being forced to take what someone else has decided is “perfect” may impact on our willingness to try. However, if presented with a range of different “sauces” – some that provide familiarity and some that slowly expand experiences with ingredients – I may take a risk and give something unfamiliar a go, because now I have the ability to make my own choice.
Bringing the discussion back to Flipped Learning, having the same range of ingredients and possible sauces might very well be the key to providing the best opportunities for teachers and students to benefit from the process.
There is no one perfect way to “flip” a classroom, but there are some key ingredients that can determine success. Teachers require access to these essential ingredients: professional support, pedagogical development and growth, understanding the value of implementing a flipped structure, technologies for resource creation, managing additional time in the classroom and developing enriched, engaging activities for students. These ingredients then need to be aligned to effective teaching methodologies – the method for making the right “sauce” for this particular group of students.
As with most sauces, a few additions of extra ingredients (for example, activities, tasks and interactions) might have to be added during the cooking process.. as we keep on adjusting and adapting, allowing for choice and personal differences! Developing communities of practice is then can be compared to a pot-luck event, where teachers can informally share ideas, “ingredients”, methods and outcomes.
Perhaps the secret of successfully flipping your classroom lies in encouraging “taste testing”, learning from one another and sharing of ingredients that have worked. This presents the food for thoughts that teachers can create their own supermarket of ideas and generate choice through successful experimentation.