Articles I Never Finished Reading, Dept.

Quartz has yet another enlightening article about what we’re doing wrong in education:

Research, and common sense, show that kids learn more by being actively engaged in what they’re doing. When they engage in discussionteach others, and grapple with a math problem, they boost their ability to absorb and retain information.

The evidence is mounting against schools that fail to take this approach. Most are still built around making sure kids have the right answers to rote questions, rather than the tools to formulate meaningful questions that deepen their learning.

Putting aside the mischaracterization that teachers/schools teach by “rote” and that no understanding or dialogue takes place in schools that are considered to not use this “dialogic” approach as it is termed, let me ask this.  The inquiry-based, student-centered, and “dialogic” approaches have been upon us for the last 30 years. How has that been working out?  Oh, right. The teachers aren’t doing it correctly.

Let me ask some more questions. Did they control for tutoring, help at home? And another question. Do tutors, learning centers use the “dialogic”? And what are the results from tutoring/learning centers compared with classes using the “dialogic” approach. And can it be said that traditional teaching does employ so-called “dialogic” approach? And can it also be said that the “dialogic” approach sought after by EEF study mentioned in the article is another form of “rote understanding”?

Andrew Old who some of you know from his blog Scenes from the Battleground, also asks about the EEF study: “Looking at the results of that study earlier. Small effect sizes most of which weren’t statistically significant. Don’t get the hype at all.” Let me go out on a limb here: Can it be that the hype is to prove that the so-called dialogic approach is superior to the rote approach the trads are supposedly using?


One thought on “Articles I Never Finished Reading, Dept.

  1. “Private schools tend to excel at this type of teaching. At Phillips Exeter, an elite US boarding school, teaching and learning are built around a method called “Harkness”, which involves sitting students at an oval table, and having them take ownership of class discussion with each other. Teachers mostly act as background facilitators.”

    The Harkness Table is neither necessary or sufficient – Look at Phillips Andover – and teachers do NOT mostly act as background facilitators. In addition, students at both schools have a LOT of homework and pressure. “Dialogic teaching” is not the key variable. Educators look at things like the Harkness Table and see only what they want to see. When it gets separated from the other variables, it fails completely.

    We have a Harkness Table private high school in our area. It’s fine, but the table is not the key ingredient. The school isn’t Phillips Exeter or even Philips Andover. Why is that? These educators really don’t want to know the answer. There can be good and bad traditional teaching (I’ve had many great discussions and discoveries in a traditional classroom), but when you take out the content and skills enforcement pressure to focus primarily on STUDENT dialog, you will fail completely. Many of these pedagogues love balance, but they assume that the proper level of skills can be had without hard individual homework.

    This is another example of how it’s all about their turf. There may be a lot of pedagogical approaches to education that could work (hand puppets?), but the keys to success in math are high expectations and proper completion of individual p-sets. Success does not flow from dialog. Traditional teaching could add in more discussions, but all of their approaches NEVER address the importance of content and skills. They see the table and ignore the rest. Traditional teaching can be improved, but their student/dialog/discovery approach is fundamentally wrong. Skills prove understanding, not words.

    It’s one thing to promote more discussions and student involvement (perfectly possible in a traditional setting), but quite another to claim that skills are rote and facts are mere. It’s all about their turf – and wrong.


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