Reflections, Part 2

Quality, and meaningful, feedback is something that is paramount to the success of Operation LAPIS and of practomimetic learning in general. However, I noticed a very interesting trend in how each of the two sections felt about the feedback that they received. Their responses in the end of the year surveys couldn't be any more different. On the one hand, the original LAPIS group felt that the feedback given to them was exceptional, especially when it came to interaction at night in the team discussion forums. On the other hand, the partial year class felt that the feedback they received was significantly insufficient.

Obviously, I was quite puzzled (and a bit taken aback) by the comments of the newer group -- especially since I read through that batch first. However, reading the comments from the original group made me realize something very important about this whole process, especially the feedback portion.

For the original group, all they've known throughout the entire year were the interactions in their team forums between them and myself, comments left in their dossiers, and feedback left on the occasional attunement challenges. Also, they recognized the value in the conversations that I had with their teams in person each class as they were working on any given task.

However, for the newer group, they began the year in a traditional Latin class, with traditional instruction -- including frequent quizzes and tests. They've also spent the year in their other core classes, receiving similar instructional methods. For almost every student not involved in a practomimetic course, their idea of "feedback" is a letter at the top of the page. When those letters disappeared for the newer group, they believed that they stopped receiving feedback altogether. The only "feedback" the ever receive, anywhere, is a letter on the top of the page. Because of how used to the traditional system they had become, they were unable to make the connection that not only were they receiving feedback, they were receiving feedback in a substantially more meaningful way.

So why did that happen? How come they weren't able to see the value in the shift of how I was interacting with them nightly?

The answer, I think, falls back to the narrative. One of the sections that I skipped in order to fit into the condensed schedule was a whole series of missions that took place in Britain. Included in those missions is a fantastically constructed series of episodes that force them to think about a lot of the metacognitive issues at play with practomimetic learning and it's connection with Plato's Allegory of the Cave. When the original class went through these exercises, it was one of the most rewarding consecutive days of teaching in my career. The self-discovery about their own learning and school in general was incredible to watch unfold as they put all the pieces together.

The rift between the two sections in terms of their perception of how feedback was handled was precisely because the newer group just wasn't exposed to the metacognitive process that the original group went through. Again, this misstep on my part fortunately exposed something incredible about Sinistrus' strange farm: that part of the narrative, like seemingly everything before and after, is vital to the complete package. Practomimetic learning is as much about learning how to learn as it is about the content area itself.

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