Choosing a posture adapted to the pedagogical situation
As educators, we are perhaps more accustomed to positioning ourselves as an expert. This posture is relevant, but in a constructivist perspective it makes sense at the end of a pedagogical process, where the institutionalization stage has taken on its full meaning for the learner in the light of the experiences evoked during the pedagogical process. In addition to this expert stance, there are several other ones to be taken into consideration.
For the educator: choose a posture adapted to the pedagogical situation
For the learner: feel free to speak authentically, feel in a secure situation to learn, be conscious of the main learning at stake in a problem situation.
Postures to be considered in a socio-constructivist approach
Whatever the pedagogical situation, it seems important to us to remain impartial, i.e. not to direct the learner towards the educator’s point of view on the issue of animal welfare, not to try to convince him but rather to show them all the controversies involved. The educator will only reveal their own opinions to set an example, or to respond to the participants' requests. But under no circumstances should these opinions be used as a model to be followed. The ethics that the teacher expresses is an educational ethic, based on the acceptance of the student's subjective experience.
This key posture implies adopting different types of posture during the pedagogical process
The facilitation posture aims to allow expression of conceptions, confronting learners’ opinions in a fair atmosphere. To question and allow everyone's points of view to be explored in greater depth requires that one's own norms, ethics and point of view regarding animal welfare issues be disregarded.
The mediation posture is particularly solicited when students have expressed conflicting points of view, to help the person to take in consideration their divergences in a constructive way.
Welcoming the person's emotions, allowing him/her to open them, is to part of an accompanying posture, leading the teacher to help the learner to orient himself/herself. Any judgment made about their choices would risk disqualifying their subjective experience.
But the teacher must also allow expression of their own difficulties, if any, in continuing serenely, not to incriminate the group, but to testify to their own emotions and desires. This posture is an invitation for the learner to do the same, to allow him/herself to be authentic. It also generally leads to regulation of the group by allowing participants to experience the same discomfort leading to change.
Pitfalls and recommendations
As a teacher, it is important to be clear about the posture to take according to the pedagogical situation, avoiding the posture of expert when leading a debate, or avoiding orienting the learner more than accompanying the learner.
Examples et testimonials
“The first test of the Anicare didactic approach that was carried out with veterinary students in Belgium was quite disappointing for the facilitator. Indeed, the students did not present the expected motivation to participate in the debate. After debriefing, we identified several obstacles. Because of the place he occupied in the room (sitting on a high chair at the extremity of the table in front of the blackboard), the situation/problem chosen (practical case with only one solution), the facilitator positioned himself as an expert.”
“During a workshop with teachers of zootechny, the participants didn’t know if they could share their own ethical point of view about some professional practices with the learners, and how to do that without feeling too exposed. A teacher testified that he wanted to be impartial with his learners but at the same he needed to give his own opinion about calf dehorning. “I have read research articles, I have observed breeders with their animals, I have dehorned, and for me, the calves suffer for a long time. It’s difficult for me to accept that even if I have to teach you such practices”. He enabled the students to give their own experience, without attempting to proselytise, without the need for justification in an attempt to prove a point.
The myth of the neutrality of the teacher collapsed. A teacher can express their own opinion without taking a high position and trying to convince. Finally, the conclusion of the discussion with the teachers came on the legitimacy. What does it mean to be legitimate? To be expert of the knowledge? Or in your teaching capacity, to manage a discussion, a debate?”
“I've often had problems with ranchers' sons. No matter how many virtuous practices I showed them, they kept saying, "Yes, but my father, he doesn't do it like that." They don't question themselves. I preferred to work with novices. But now I make the students exchange among themselves, without intervening, and I observe that they accept the difference in outlook much more easily.”