Learning styles have been 'discredited' – using the ability to recall facts as a baseline. They have “no measurable effect” – if you measure their effectiveness using standardized tests designed to test recall.
Meanwhile, in real teaching and learning (where we teach a bit more than facts to be regurgitated) they are as important as ever.
So please stop using the saying that “learning styles have discredited, don't you know” to justify your monotonous, dull, one-size-fits-all lessons.
A longer rant here: Learning Styles
That is all.
(Note: So sometimes I use my blog to be open and honest about my successes and failures as a teacher. This is one of those. Please skip it if you prefer my rants to my cathartic moments.)
Last term was a good term.
I am not going to moralize about it.
I am not going to try to sublimate out a ‘deeper’ meaning.
Again following Scott McLeod’s lead, here’s what a few of my bright sparks think we need to stop pretending is true about schooling:
- Teachers need to stop thinking they’re under more pressure than us.
- That school and our education are the only important things in our lives.
- That the subject a teacher teaches is the most valuable/important subject to us.
- It would be nice to focus on the journey rather than the result.
- We need to stop pretending that all of our classes will actually help us in life.
- That all learning happens in the classroom.
- That STEM subjects are the most important. And that MADD* isn’t.
- That the teaching of our syllabus isn’t based on when the next test is.
- That people that do well in school (academically) will automatically be successful in the real world.
- That school doesn’t teach us much more than how to play the system.
- That standard normal education is something for everyone.
*MADD: An acronym my school uses for Music, Art, Drama and Design (I’d like to add the Humanities, but it doesn’t quite fit. DAHMD seems too ominous. MAHDD perhaps?)
Dear Class of 2015
Here are a few things that will happen to you as you move through life:
- Many people will not care about you. Many may not even like you.
- Unfair things will happen more often than you ever thought they would.
- You will not always get what you want.
- There will come a time when you do not have anyone to turn to and you feel overwhelmed and helpless.
- You will get dangerously angry. You may even lose control completely.
- You will come to realize that not everything revolves around you.
- You will have to work harder than you ever imagined.
- You will fail.
- You will feel despondent about the state of the world. (The Germans even have a word for this, they call it Weltschmerz.)
- Your heart will break at least once more.
- You will be wrong and have to apologize.
- You will die.
But even though all of this will happen, life (while it lasts) can be beautiful and richly rewarding. Take your lumps, learn your lessons and move on. Don't dwell on the negatives and avoid spiraling into a dark place. It can be close to impossible to get out again once you do.
The trick is to be kind as often as possible, to laugh as often as you can and to surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you. Think, go on adventures and appreciate what you have. And most importantly, find the things that make you and others around you happy. (If possible, make a career out of these things.)
And remember, although all these bad things will happen to you, they will also happen to everyone else. Any small amount of comfort and joy you can give to others makes it better for them – and for you.
We are all in this together.
Here’s something Scott McLeod posted today on his blog Dangerously Irrelevant:
When it comes to education, we have to stop pretending…
- that short-term memorization equals long-term learning.
- that students find meaning in what we’re covering in class.
- that low-level facts and procedures are a prerequisite to deeper learning.
- that analog learning environments prepare kids for a digital world.
- that what we’re doing isn’t boring.
He’s turning these into a challenge – presumably to change what he does and / or the environment he is in – as well as to inspire those within his sphere of influence to make similar changes.
I would like to suggest my own ugly truths about education that I would like to work to banish in whatever small way I can. Some of them are the same or similar to Scott’s.
I’m giving myself a year.
Five Ugly Truths About Education I Would Like to Change
It’s time we stopped pretending that…
- exams and tests are the most important means of judging a student’s mastery of the knowledge and skills acquired in class.
- the syllabus and associated standards are the most important thing in teaching and kids need to ‘get the facts into their heads’.
- low-level facts and procedures are a prerequisite to deeper learning.
- incentivizing academic achievement (with awards and prizes) encourages students to excel at acquiring twenty-first century skills.
- kids have enough time to process learning deeply and effectively.
It time we stopped pretending these things are true. I am going to do what I can. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I am tagging and challenging Melani van der Merwe, Antony Egbers, Tiaan Lotter, Dorian Love and Robyn Clarke Rajab. I know they’ll be up for it!
Why not join? Tweet your post using the hashtag #MakeSchoolDifferent
Introduction: On Touchstones and Magic
Right now there is an aspiring teacher who is working on a 60-page paper based on some age-old education theory developed by some dead education professor wondering to herself what this task that she’s engaging in has to do with what she wants to do with her life, which is be an educator, change lives, and spark magic. (Christopher Emdin)
Student teachers. I don’t have them often, but when I do, I am dismayed (that’s right, dismayed) at how they are evaluated. Obviously I only see this part of things, but how they are evaluated must speak in a large way to what they are taught at university. And it seems to me that in their lectures, more attention is paid to the orderliness of their resource files than on teaching them to find amazing content, that more weight is given to how well they stand and deliver than on teaching kids to find things out independently, and that learning to discipline a class is more important than learning to keep them engaged.
Of most concern to me is the fact that teaching the syllabus always seems to be more of a touchstone than teaching the young people in front of them.
Is it any wonder that it takes dynamic teachers years to recover from their teacher training years? And, sadly,
the great majority some never do.
In his amazing TED talk (quoted from at the beginning of this post), Chris Emdin talks about what he thinks should be happening during a teacher’s training years:
Posted in Advice, Critical Thinking, EDUCATION, Magic, Uncategorized
Tagged 21ST CENTURY EDUCATION, Assessments, Best Practice, CREATIVITY, CRITICAL THINKING, Curiosity, EDUCATION, educationrevolution, Independent Thinking, Innovation, Intelligence, iPedagogy, Learning, Pedagogy, PERSONALIZED, School, STUDENT-CENTERED, TEACHER, Teaching, TECHNOLOGY, Technology in Education, Twenty-First Century
Teaching is like playing golf: as much as we try, most of us will never be perfect at what we do. I have yet to meet a teacher (and I’ve met many truly masterful ones) who can teach off a scratch handicap. Most of us just try to get a little better every time we teach – slowly trying to eliminate our mistakes while adding a few new skills.
There’s so much more to a book than just the reading. Maurice Sendak
So you want to become ‘well-read’?
When reading try to think your way through the experience. Form an opinion about what it is you’re reading and/ or try remember a few key facts. Being well-read is not just about how much you read, but how well you’ve understood what you’ve read. It is just as easy to be poorly-read after having read many books as it is to be well-read without having read much. I have friends who read a book a year or fewer, and yet I consider them well-read because they can discuss what they’ve read in remarkable detail.
Being well-read is about reading what you read well, that is: understanding it and making it your own, not about reading as much as you possibly can. That said, though, reading widely does help you to forge stronger, better reasoned and more diverse ideas.
This gallery contains 47 photos.
This week the world changed for the better. A seemingly small thing happened that will undoubtedly have massive consequences for the way the world works. And so many people missed it: Google is considering ranking pages and sites according to the reliability of their facts rather than how many links they contain.
Just how Google might do this is fascinating in many respects, but their proposed use of Google Knowledge Graph and Knowledge Vault in order to distinguish more reliable sites from the bum-fluff has to be chief among them.
Check your horoscope now and then, why don’t you? It can’t hurt.
Drink three glasses of water before 10am. They say you need eight a day. And it helps you lose weight. It can’t hurt.
Add a multivitamin or three to your daily supplement intake. And why not some herbs and minerals and essential compounds? An antioxidant or two, some wort and some root and you’re set. It can’t hurt.
Try a bit of feng-shui around the house, why don’t you. And check out that lottery you didn’t enter that you just won. It can’t hurt. Surely.
Grab your lucky rabbit’s foot, your four-leaf clover and your misprinted penny. Avoid black cats, open umbrellas and walking under ladders. You need all the luck you can get. And it can’t really hurt. Can it?
Give your kids as much homework as you can. It can’t hurt.
And there’s nothing wrong with a bit of stress. It gets them motivated. Surely that can’t hurt?
The classroom is no place for fun. Keep things strict and disciplined and focussed at all times. A bit of rigor can’t hurt.
Pummel kids with as much content as you can in a lesson. Stand and deliver. It’s their job as students to digest and remember it all. How can that hurt?
Let’s test and examine kids as often as we can using standardized assessments. How else will we know that they know? It can’t hurt. Can it?
Only, it can – and it does.
A little rant:
Do you know the one about the teacher who brain-washes his students all day with supernatural fairy tales? At that private school that openly tells the world that they are proudly fairy tale orientated? The guy who says, without a trace of irony, that the state of education in the rest of the country is in a dismal state? The same fairy tale mongerer who, again without the slightest nod to irony, bemoans the fact that kids these days can’t think critically and reason independently?
You must know him. Or her. I know hundreds of them. I wish they would just stay away from the teaching profession instead of filling so many curious young minds with such obvious nonsense – and closing them off to rational thought.
That is all.
Live long and prosper. _\\//
Irony is Everything
I believe, firmly and resolutely, and to a degree that makes it impossible for new evidence to convince me otherwise, that the universe and all things are made up of fundamental, intangible, generative waveform-forces I call ironies.
There are four sub-types of irony that are at the heart of all things:
1) The cruel irony
2) The subtle irony
3) The normal irony
4) The ‘is it irony?’ (i3) irony
These ironies combine with one another in every combination possible (although I cannot fully describe the process yet) and give rise to electro-magnetism, the strong atomic force, the weak atomic force and gravity, as well as the various strings and membranes which physicists today erroneously believe constitute the building blocks of all things.
The various intricate interactions between the fundamental ironies and the irony compounds which arise also go a long way towards explaining the absurdities of existence, the beauty of art, the strangeness of time, the complexities of the human mind and experience, as well as where missing socks and teaspoons go.