Posts Tagged With ‘pedagogy’


The Photocopier Challenge

Enjoying The Lazy Teachers’s Handbook at the moment. Love this idea – will try it in the New Year.

“may I suggest something I like to call the Photocopier Challenge, an easy and straightforward way of finding out the extent to which you are wasting your own time, let alone letting others waste it for you too. And once you have tested yourself in this way, try the test on your colleagues. You will be amazed at how many heated debates you can start just standing in line at the photocopier. Simply print out the list of questions below which challenge the pedagogical imperatives of your impending actions with the photocopier and stick it on the wall near the machine:
  • Why have I printed paper copies?
  • What types of activity will this lead to?
  • Are these activities to do with learning or filling the time or crowd control or something else?
  • How is the sheet going to be marked?
  • How is the learning going to be assessed?
  • How much of the worksheet do you intend to read to the whole class?
  • Do all students have to start from the beginning?
  • Do all students have to work through to the end?
  • How could it have been done without any photocopying in the first place?

The list could go on, but I am sure you get the idea.


Flipped Classrooms

Have mixed feelings about flipping classrooms (so to speak). Part of me loves the idea, part of me is suspicious of the hype and evangelical say no bad things about it. But hey, maybe that’s me and evangelicals.

Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media



Wittgenstein, Popper and Education

A little bit of history goes a long way – and certainly puts some of the 21st Century Learning rhetoric in perspective.

“The Pedagogic Institute had been established to further the Austrian educational reform program. This attempted to steer education away from a ‘drill school’ approach, in which schoolchildren were treated as empty vessels to be filled by the accumulation of dictated knowledge and respect for authority, toward seeking children’s active engagement through self-discovery and problem solving. Both Popper and Wittgenstein were trained in the methods of encouraging this. Integral to the vision was a general view of the mind as innately capable of producing frameworks within which information could be organised.”

from Wittgenstein’s Poker



The Pedagogy of Oxford Tutorials

It’s funny how blind one can be.

This article, by Robert Beck, outlines the Pedagogy of the Oxford Tutorial system, the jewel in the University’s crown.

Essentially the process is research (reading, writing, lectures, chatting with friends) – essay – presentation of essay – discussion with tutor.

A couple of things caught my eye, now that I have a teacher’s hat on.

First, a comment about marks:

there is an extreme aversion among the Oxford tutors in my study to provide letter grade evaluations to essays. While formative feedback, nuanced notes and other annotations are used copiously, there was no tendency to grade essays, which is regarded as inhibiting motivation. Why? Perhaps, because grading violates the open-ended quality of the tutorial and suggests a sense of finality or, at least, may be taken that way

Second, an observation about feedback loops:

When a tutor asks a question about some claim within a student’s essay or presentation, he or she is requesting information from the student, but the intent may also range from uncertainty, to doubt, and even outright dispute and opposition. While the phrasing of the question may be subtle, relatively non-specific, and indirect (“what are you getting at here?) or direct and specific (why do you claim that economic factors alone led to WWII?) or challenging (Aren’t you dead-wrong about this?), in each case the tutor is referring to possible errors in the student’s argument. At the very least, the tutor is indicating that more information is needed to answer the question and is offering clues in potentially useful directions. But when the student responds to such questions, the answer may indicate further problems in the student’s thinking, and the tutor’s subsequent feedback in the next exchange(s) will indicate how adequate the answer was, thus pointing out additional errors; for example, the student may not have understood the question or may have provided answers that are deficient in evidence or a relevant warrant (Toulmin, 1958).

This process is very different than the mindreading and guessing games some teachers employ when they ask: who knows the capital of Wisconsin? Rather, in tutorials questions and feedback are used to induce students to repair their reasoning, although some direct corrections of information are inevitable. … In fact, on close examination of this process, I have observed that the tutorial hour involves an almost continuous formative assessment of students’ arguments that result in the identification of many points of error, some of which may be repaired successfully by students. And, in this process, contrary to argumentation theory, the object is not explicit agreement between tutor and student, but to induce the student to make his own repairs to his argument and thus, to learn to think for himself.

So there’s metacognition, project-based learning, assessment for learning and more in the Tutorial System.

I grew up in Oxford. My father’s a don. I worked as a research associate in Oxford for a couple of years. And I have only just made the link between home turf and modern schooling. Depressing really.



Connected and Un-Connected Schools

I think this point of Shelly’s is probably right.

A gap will emerge between those schools that can offer the capacity for network building — represented by their own network of connected teachers and administrators — and those that will not make the connection. This is not an issue of public versus private school or wealthy versus impoverished school. Plenty of wealthy schools are deciding not to make the connection, while many teachers in cash-strapped schools are pursuing a real grass-roots effort to make it happen. This is about connected schools versus not-connected schools.

via TeachPaperless.

I’m becoming more and more convinced, though, that it’s not down to simple technophiles and technophobes. There is an implicit pedagogy in these technologies. Schools, or even departments in schools, whose own ways of teaching clash with the open, more constructivist approach will find it harder to connect than not. They’ll find it harder to connect not because they can’t use the technologies but because they ask “Why should they?”. Given their pedagogies that is a reasonable question. Given the fact they are learning organisations, it seems a little less sensible.



What is a tiger for?

Still more from John Kay’s Obliquity:

“For years I struggled with the idea that if a profit could not be the defining purpose of a corporation, there must be something else that must be its defining purpose. If business did not maximise profit, what did it maximise? I was making the same mistake as those victims of the teleological fallacy who struggled for centuries with questions like ‘What is a tiger for?’ Tigers, as we no understand, are not the product of any purposive design … Tigers are good at being tigers because adaptation has hones them to be well adapted to the daily life of tigerdom. There is not more, or less, to it than that.


A good oil company is good at being an oil company, just as a good university is good at being a university, a good harpist is good at playing the harp and a good dentist is good at filling teeth. There is no defining purpose to these activities distinct from the activities themselves.


The Play Ethic & NY’s Quest to Learn school

Katie Salen, the other co-founder of Q2L and a respected computer games designer, is militantly against the “19th-century industrial age model” of education, represented by the grade-obsessed No Child Left Behind policy in the US. But only because she feels “it isn’t adequate for the society we live in”.

“We are not just using games in our pedagogy because it’s fun or engaging, but because games teach kids that they live among systems – ecological, financial, technological – and that it’s important to keep those systems sustained and in balance. That’s the world that exists right now. We should be educating children to step into that world.”

Source: here


The Play Ethic & NY’s Quest to Learn school

Katie Salen, the other co-founder of Q2L and a respected computer games designer, is militantly against the “19th-century industrial age model” of education, represented by the grade-obsessed No Child Left Behind policy in the US. But only because she feels “it isn’t adequate for the society we live in”.

“We are not just using games in our pedagogy because it’s fun or engaging, but because games teach kids that they live among systems – ecological, financial, technological – and that it’s important to keep those systems sustained and in balance. That’s the world that exists right now. We should be educating children to step into that world.”

Source: here


Moving Beyond the Course to Micro-labs

A normal class defines both the required learning outcomes and the required inputs (the homework, projects, group assignments etc.) that students must experience in order to (hopefully) arrive at the required outcomes. In other words, the professor decides, not only what the students should learn but also how they should learn.

This factory model for education is growing increasingly untenable as the world grows more complex. Today's students graduate into a world of far greater uncertainty and far greater diversity as the formerly monolithic landscape dominated by a few large companies grows increasing fragmented and diversified.

The core idea is that micro-lab classes adapts to its learners instead of requiring its learners to adapt to the class. This is the central idea of many web 2.0 applications. … In a similar way, the micro-lab course provides an architecture for students to build learning communities and use learning objects of their choosing.

Source: here


Ron Clark

Hmm.  As interested in the non song and dance lessons as the promo bits.  And made very aware how important it is to teachers to teach in the way they want.  Would dread being asked to teach like this.

Still, healthy to see different approaches happening. [thanks Scott]