Something’s wrong/nothing’s wrong, Dept.

Again, an op-ed  showing that people know something’s wrong while being told by school administrators and departments of education that how it was done in the past (when it worked) was wrong, and now we have a better way (which doesn’t work).  The current term for such subterfuge is called “gaslighting”. Another term is “willful ignorance”.

It is prevalent in education and the reason why many people advocating for change, sooner or later, give up trying to change the trend of ineffective faddish practices.

I heard a fellow teacher say recently that she uses “stations” in her class (i.e., a project-based activity in which students rotate among various tables doing various tasks, in groups) because middle schoolers’ attention span does not exceed 13 minutes. While short attention spans cannot be denied, there are other ways of breaking up a lesson, such as asking questions, having students solve problems, or a host of other activities, such as has been done effectively.

Here is a brief list of the various fads and beliefs that pass as effective education.

Productive struggle

Inquiry-based learning

Project-based learning

Problem-based learning

Growth mindset


Student-centered learning

Three-before-me (teacher doesn’t answer a question until student has asked 3 other students the question)

Depth of Knowledge

Bloom’s Taxonomy

                              Feel free to add others.

4 thoughts on “Something’s wrong/nothing’s wrong, Dept.

  1. You’ve been spared some of the worst fads, because if you’d had to suffer them there’s no way they wouldn’t make your list.

    Triple marking, for instance, would have broken me.

    The rage in New Zealand is “modern learning environments”. Where two or three classes share a space. (And they’re exactly as noisy and distracting as you would predict them to be.) The teacher isn’t allowed a desk either — I presume that they don’t want any silent work at all.

    “Blended learning” is another. Where you don’t do Science or Maths, English or Geography, but units which merge subjects into a mish-mash of concepts.

    How about being made to put all your lessons onto a digital platform, coded for the curriculum skills they were aimed at — knowing that it would only be a short while before another platform would come along and you’d have to do it again.

    Interactive whiteboards — hours of learning a new system that didn’t do anything an ordinary whiteboard and data projector couldn’t do.

    One of the local schools sold all the books in their library, convinced the world would be entirely digital in the future.


  2. Ah, right. We have “blended learning” and “personalized learning” neither of which benefits from blending or personalization. We also have “interactive whiteboards” (called Smart Boards which is the brand name here and yes, they do very little of value that an ordinary whiteboard can do”.

    Haven’t heard of “triple marking”. What is it?


  3. Triple marking is where a teacher marks the student’s work and gives extensive feedback in writing, then the student has to reply to that feedback, upon which the teacher has to respond to the student’s feedback. In the more insane versions, the colours of the pens used were specified so that others could see that the process was being followed in full.

    We’re not talking at the end of a topic etc, but on a basically daily basis, for all students. The amount of work it caused was epic — and predictably took so much time that actually teaching dropped.


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