PLCs and bees

So my questions for last time were: what are the incentives for joining a professional learning community and what are the disincentives for leaving?

I wonder if the incentives are mainly pedagogical or strategic? I’ve talked before about whether collective learning is better than individual learning so the arguments are the same (sharing of ideas and perspectives etc.). However, I wonder if many of the reasons that people are attracted are more strategic than that: mutual support, the power of the collective voice, career progression etc. If so the PLC’s become a fantastic vehicle for learning to take place, but are not in themselves a pedagogical invention. That is not a criticism of course. A bee is not a pedagogical invention, but we’ll miss them when they are gone. And they make honey.

Perhaps another potential danger of a professional learning community is the ‘professional’ bit. Does this automatically exclude students? If so, perhaps we’re only hearing one side of the story (albeit with different tones of voice). On the educational development course that I tutor on, I feel that one of the most valuable parts of the experience is remembering what it is to be a student. When an assignment is rushed or handed in late the once-tutor-now-student is painfully reminded that students do not belong in a special category of awfulness. We are all sometimes motivated by deadlines, unprepared, confused etc. This is not because we are students but because we are all occasionally flaky people. Do PLCs exclude the student voice and, in doing so, miss half the conversation?

Ros, do you have any final words in PLC’s defense?

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