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Posts Tagged ‘education

Much of schooling is still about expecting one process and a model answer. Just like the question above.

It does not forgive alternatives even though they might be based on reality. Just like the answer to the question above.

Schooling is about making students provide the correct answers. Education is about developing learners who can generate more than one answer.

This is not about creating a false dichotomy because we need both. The problem is not recognising when we need each and how much of it is needed.

The video below explains the differences between modern music videos and educational ones. In doing so, it works less as a how-to and more as a warning not to blindly ape popular methods.

Video source

Fortunately, those of us who live and work in the realms of schooling and education do not have the time or inclination to make educational videos more like music videos.

Unfortunately, this has not stopped leaders and administrators from adopting concepts and practices from other fields, e.g., return on investment, best practices, being like Uber or AirBnB or Amazon of education.

I am all for learning about how others operate. I am not for trying to transfer or apply those ideas devoid of history or context.

I can tell when work gets in the way of learning — my readings pile up as open tabs in my browser or are marked unread in my Feedly reader. This is even more apparent when I do not react to and reflect on what I read, watch, or listen to.

Here are just two examples of open tabs in my Mac:

Lecture capture
On 21 Sep, Martin Weller shared his thoughts on lecture capture. Weller hooked me in with “don’t fight it, feel it”.

My first instinct was to fight it because that is what I stood against when I was a university faculty member and then head of group that led the way with progressive pedagogies.

Weller provided a broad and balanced series on points, and I agree with one operating principle that I will sum up as: Think about what lecture capture (or any technology for that matter) means for the learner and learning.

We might disagree fundamentally on the effectiveness of lectures, but we definitely are focused on the learner and learning.

Side effects of evidence-based education
Yong Zhao is not one to shy away from saying something controversial about education and he has the ammunition to back his words up.

His blog entry on 7 Oct was the introduction of his new book, What Works Can Hurt: Side Effects in Education. After listing examples of medications that were accompanied with warning labels, he wondered why educational products and interventions did not also come with such warnings.

In Singapore’s context, we have warnings not to take too much Panadol, but were not warned about how our notion and implementation of meritocracy could stratified society. Hindsight is clearer than foresight, but that is not Yong Zhao’s message.

While Yong Zhao compared the education systems in China and the USA, his message rings true for Singapore as we strive for evidence-based education: Interventions and their measures look for the positive and intended effects, not the side and dire effects.

If we are to be an example to the rest of the world, we need to embrace not just the plaudits, but also the brickbats.

If nothing else gets in the way of some reading and reflection, I might share some thoughts on the other open tabs on my browser.

It is strange what the newspaper considers physical education (PE).

When did PE become structured time for sports during what is already short recess? Does the school extend recess? How does walking outside school with Google Maps count as “outdoor adventure” and PE?

Modern PE, anyone?

If the results of this study are valid, then new teachers are not as prepared as they should be if they depend on teacher education textbooks.

This presupposes that the six research-based instructional strategies are themselves valid and rigorous. But since we have to start somewhere, those fundamental six are as good as any.

The chart seems to be a modification or revision of a 2016 report and presentation by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). The fundamental six (in the screen captures below) were from a guide in 2007.

So the fundamental and research-based instructional strategies are not new. However, the researchers found that in their sample of 48 teacher preparation textbooks:

  • none accurately described all six fundamentals
  • the fundamentals were inadequately addressed

What then do textbooks offer teachers about helping students learn?

According to the study, the emphasis seemed to be “posing probing questions” or “elaboration” (41%). However, there did not seem to be any emphasis on helping students retain what they heard or did.

The study then went on to illustrate how teacher preparation courses paralleled textbook content, and in doing so, were also inadequate.

Do stakeholders have reason to worry?

Yes, if teacher preparation is the only time when teachers learn the fundamentals.

No, not when there is learning on-the-job (OTJ) and continuous professional development (PD). In some places, there might also be teacher recertification.

Yes, if the OTJ and PD are not updated and relevant.

No, if the teachers participate in informal PD (I call it unPD) and get the latest and greatest from edu-Twitter, education blogs and newsletters, etc.

Yes, if that behaviour is not the norm or firmly entrenched as an expectation of professional practice.

After reading Part 1 and Part 2 of Education Buzz Words, I distilled some of my favourite unfavourites.

In alphabetical order, my pet peeves of words and phrases used misleadingly with aplomb are:

  • 21CC (as if they are all unique and not timeless)
  • Best practices (when applied singularly and devoid of context)
  • Education (when you actually mean schooling)
  • Engagement (when this is not accompanied with empowerment)
  • Flipped classroom (when confused with flipped learning)
  • Gamification (when blindly combined or confused with game-based learning)
  • Learning (when confused with teaching, which learning is not)
  • Real world (when cited behind walled gardens)

We would do well to heed this warning from a teacher who said this in Part 1.

Teachers love buzzwords because they carry weight, but are we really understanding them? How about we become better at understanding and putting these words into practice rather than just repeating words to sound hip and cool.

The op piece in this tweet was an impassioned call to step up our efforts in inclusive schooling and education.

I take no issue with that call because we can only be better people for it.

I did notice, however, that you could substitute every instance of “inclusive education” or “special needs education” with almost any contentious issue in schooling — say technology integration — and the op piece would still make sense. Take this segment, for example:

… we still have a long way to go in embracing inclusion technology fully.

One of the key factors for inclusive technology integration in education is adaptation. The present landscape of special needs technology integration in education in Singapore is lacking in a customisable curriculum to meet the diverse needs of children with special needs.

I did not change the last two words (special needs) in my selection because every child is special in their own way. Technology can help express their uniqueness and latent abilities.

Reading the whole article more critically, you might discover that it says everything and nothing at the same time. Everything because it covers the issues broadly; nothing because it merely skims the surface. This is why we can play the word substitution game.

Viewed more broadly, the write-up might sound like a politician’s or policymaker’s script for a speech. It is a call to action, but it is so generic that is becomes impotent.

Word substitution is my way of determine the depth of thought of the written or spoken word. If one issue in schooling or education cannot be distinguished from another with the help of word substitution, its rallying call is but a whisper.

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