In most online courses and/or ‘adaptive learning systems’ …
- Students do low-level work at times that are convenient.
- Students do low-level work from places that are convenient.
- Students do low-level work on their own, unique path.
- Students do low-level work at their own, unique pace.
But it’s still low-level work.
Digitizing, chunking, and algorithmizing worksheet-like learning tasks doesn’t move them out of the domains of factual recall and procedural regurgitation. The modality doesn’t change the substance of the learning task. Until we are willing to address the kinds of work that we ask students to do on a day-to-day basis, not just the delivery mode, the any time, any place, any path, any pace mantra isn’t going to change a thing…
Geoffrey Cohen & Sara Goldrick-Rab said:
Many people think that educating a child is akin to filling a cup. Open heads and pour in knowledge, skills, and virtues. This metaphor is seductive because it calls on deeply-held stereotypes that paint poor and minority children as not having enough drive and smarts.
But the original meaning of education is “to draw out,” not to “fill up.” . . . [we] need to create classrooms that draw out what students already have inside them. Often times, current performance underestimates potential.
[We need to address] the dearth of opportunities for teenage students to feel like [they are] respected and valued in the asylum-like settings of many middle and high schools
[We need to address] curricula that prioritize busy work over reflective thinking that awakens students’ curiosity
Image credit: mandykoh
Howie Knoff said:
I am not in favor of extending the school day (or year) when students need the extra time to learn things they should have learned earlier in the day. . . for example, when students did not learn because of:
- Disruptive or inefficient school schedules (including excessive numbers of transitions, and the constant flow of different groups of students in and out of the classroom during the day);
- Ineffective (initial) instruction (including when teachers are poorly trained, inexperienced, unprepared, or have too many different student skill levels to teach at the same time);
- Poorly designed curricula (including curricula that are not developmentally well-matched to the students, or when teachers are teaching students who do not have the prerequisite skills to succeed in the core curriculum);
- The students are unmotivated or disengaged (including when engaged students are in classrooms with disengaged students who disrupt instruction or create a negative learning environment).
When these situations are present and the school day is extended to give students more hours of instruction, the additional time is basically compensating for gaps, weaknesses, or ineffective practices. This is inexcusable and should never occur as (a) it tacitly condones these debilitating conditions; and (b) will be unproductive if the same conditions persist during the extended hours.
Image credit: timlewisnm
Carl Hendrick wrote:
in many schools it would appear that teachers are working significantly harder than the pupils in their charge, and not so much because the kids are lazy but rather because of an institutionalised miasma that is obsessed with measuring everything (usually poorly) that privileges the spreadsheet over the individual and which has infantilised the process of learning to such a degree that actually knowing stuff is deemed less important than merely appearing to know stuff
Will Richardson said:
I think the fact that only 44% of our kids reporting engagement in high school strongly suggests [that school is] “broken.” I think the difference of educational opportunities for the kids in Camden v. the kids at Lawrenceville Prep is “broken.” I think spending an inordinate amount of time on curriculum that will soon be forgotten, curriculum that most kids don’t care about despite our best efforts to make them care, curriculum that then gets assessed in ways that really don’t show if kids can actually apply it and is used to evaluate teachers in a blatantly unfair way… all of that is “broken.”
Graham Nuthall said:
Our research shows that students can be busiest and most involved with material they already know. In most of the classrooms we have studied, each student already knows about 40-50% of what the teacher is teaching.
via The Hidden Lives of Learners, p. 24
We could solve this by pre-testing, yet not enough of us do…
Hat tip: Carl Hendrick
A culture of teaching and learning often produces great achievement but a culture of achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning
Drew Perkins said:
Perhaps the most saddening part of a Culture of Achievement is its low ceiling. While it may be politically and strategically smart to pursue the quick hits of raising test scores, it’s a fool’s bargain that limits the potential of our students in a myriad of ways.
What if we pursued a Culture of Teaching and Learning? One that placed an emphasis on things like deep, rich inquiry and craftsmanship? What if the learning had no ceiling and students were authentically assessed and did real-world work where they uncovered and discovered content? What if instead of disaggregating data our teachers engaged in quality professional discourse about their work in ways that excited them and their students? A Culture of Teaching and Learning often produces great (test scores) achievement but a Culture of Achievement rarely results in great teaching and learning. A Culture of Teaching and Learning rewards and professionalizes teaching and helps create students who are empowered by their possibilities and less than concerned with test performance.
If your school is looking to create great thinkers and learners and not just students stuffed full of content take a look at your culture. If your school is wishing your students were excited to be there instead of feeling the tension of just trying to attend and endure take a look at your culture. Is your focus on test scores and “achievement” or do your teachers and students engage in ways that allow them to grow and make meaning out of their learning in ways that tests don’t measure and quantify? Is the purpose of your school to produce great test scores or students capable of thinking creatively and critically about things that matter?
Two quotes from today’s article in The Des Moines Register, Iowa Poll: Common Core not so radioactive for Iowans:
Ah, the good old days
When Iowa Poll respondents opposed to Common Core standards were asked about their objections, some lamented the shift from traditional teaching methods such as rote memorization of facts and formulas to a focus on more critical thinking.
Because we’ve learned nothing about teaching math in 50 years
Civil engineer Jack Burnham Jr., a 40-year-old independent voter, also has a “very negative” view. “I’ve got a math primer from the 1960s,” he said. “That math worked just fine.”
Shifting the public’s conceptions about learning and teaching is an ongoing, uphill battle…