Checking off the boxes

This pedagogical rant hits all the high spots about the Man keeping us down in Math:  culturally responsive, gatekeeper, internalized deep anxiety, old white men, role models, motivation, activating voices, self-advocation for communities, equity, rote, drill, high-stakes testing, and meaningful dialogue.


Gringo said...

From the link:Using Student Discourse to Construct Meaning, Rather than Transmitting Lessons through Teacher Talk
When I saw this introduction to a video, I immediately thought of this paper: Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching.

From the paper:The past century of empirical evidence has provided overwhelmingly and unambiguous evidence that for everyone but experts, partial guidance during instruction is significantly less effective than full guidance.

It is not difficult to find web links which disagree with these conclusions. It would not surprise me that one could find some example of constructivist and/or discovery based learning which gave good results, which would appear to refute the above study.
The problem is that case studies do not necessarily translate over into large populations of students- and large populations of teachers. I am reminded of my high school experience with New Math, taught to me in the form of Illinois Math. I did well in Illinois Math, and for the first time in my life liked math. At my high school, all but the top 5-10% of students or so disliked Illinois Math. Max Beberman developed Illinois Math teaching at the University of Illinois Lab School, populated by faculty brats. What worked with faculty brats – brighter than the average Lake Wobegoner- didn’t work well with a wider variety of students. Nor did a large population of teachers have the same math capabilities as Max Beberman. Many elementary school teachers do not score well on the Math SAT, which would indicate they would have problems in teaching math, especially something with the complexity of Illinois Math. If you don’t know it, how can you teach it?

In the aggregate, with large populations of students, and with correspondingly large populations of teachers, direct instruction would appear to be better, even if one can find individual examples to refute this.

E Hines said...

It is important to teach in a culturally responsive manner. But these folks refuse to teach in a manner responsive to American culture. They always want to keep students segregated into separate cultures, because, in Woodrow Wilson's words, they can't compete otherwise.

Eric Hines

Texan99 said...

Right: the budding young Gauss or Maxwell may do brilliantly in an unstructured, inquiry-based atmosphere, but trying to design a universal education system around them is futile. I'd prefer to offer options, so that Gauss and Maxwell can self-select into the open-ended seminars, and more ordinary students can get someone to tell them how to do the problems. (Though of course they're always free to explore on their own time to the limit of their ability, which is what interested students do anyway, isn't it?)

I'd like to see some minimal standards set, so that even students who find the whole thing pretty pointless and boring can be taught to make change or evaluate a mortgage contract or whatever, without so routinizing the whole affair that more gifted or enthusiastic students are bored right out of the classroom. "Tracking" may be the height of evil these days, but it's lunacy to think the same techniques work on students of all levels of talent and drive. To me it's perfectly obvious that advanced classes should be available for advanced students.

For that matter, surely there are teachers who excel at making a minimum amount of routine knowledge clear to students who have a hard time getting it, as well as teachers who excel at lighting a flame in a future Einstein or Shakespeare.

Eric Blair said...

It might be the Martini speaking, but my response to that is bascially something I heard my 1st Sgt say once: "F**k you, in the mouth".

Those ideas need to be hounded out of education.