Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘question

One classroom management strategy that practically all teachers learn is to reassure students that “there are no dumb questions”. The rationale for this is that teachers want students to develop the confidence to ask questions in class.

However, the statement is superficial and patently untrue. There are dumb questions. Take the question in this tweet, for example.

The tweeter claims that the graphic presents a good question. It does not and the question is dumb. I do not mean this as an insult.

If you did not study any of the sciences, a quick look at the comments might reveal why the question is dumb. If you did not trawl the comments, then consider the logic of lighting a cigarette under water, or even it that was possible, how gills work.

There ARE dumb questions. I am not talking about honest, curiosity-driven, or thought experiment questions. I am talking about Googleable questions.

Googleable questions are not just about getting answers from Google searches. They include questions or statements that can be posed to YouTube, Wikipedia, assorted trusted forums, social media groups, etc.

The Googleable answers may not be valid or reliable, but therein lies the importance of developing this skill. Students must be taught to think of worthwhile and meaningful questions. When they receive responses, they need to work out which are valid and reliable.

Some people call this collection of skills modern information literacy or digital literacy. It would be a dumb move to not model and integrate this in every subject. Not doing so would result in questions as dumb (or dumber) than smoking fish.

Refuse to be confused.

I am recreating some of my favourite image quotes I created some time ago. This time I use Pablo by Buffer and indicate attribution and CC license.

If you seek to indoctrinate, provide the answers. If you seek to educate, provide questions.

The world of schooling is familiar with the pedagogy of delivering answers. It needs to educate itself by learning the pedagogy of questions. This is where problems are identified and sought before finding or creating solutions.

The pedagogy of answers provides solutions before problems are clear; the pedagogy of questions presents problems before seeking solutions.

Note: I am on vacation with my family. However, I am keeping up my blog-reflection-a-day habit by scheduling a thought a day. I hope this shows that reflections do not have to be arduous to provoke thought or seed learning.

Do these statements create dissonance?

  • Schooling is not education.
  • Gamification is not game-based learning.
  • Flipping your classroom does not guarantee flipped learning.
  • The choice to consume different resources is not the same as personalised learning.
  • Teaching objectives do not guarantee learning outcomes.
  • Enhancing lessons with technology is not the same as enabling learning with technology.
  • Engagement is not the same as empowerment.
  • An infographic is not a poster with a collection of graphic elements or snazzy fonts.
  • Learning styles are not a fact. They are a myth.
  • Calling your students digital natives does nothing to change pedagogy and might actually entrench teacher behaviours.
  • Cyber-anything.

Some of our fellow Earthlings in the USA say they should continue to question and critique everything Trump because they do not want time and lethargy to normalise what he says and does.
 

 
Likewise, educators should not allow unquestioned practice, outdated research, tradition, or vendors out simply to make money to perpetuate falsehoods.

If we do not listen with an informed ear, we let what they say become acceptable truth. If we do not cast a critical eye on what we read or observe, we normalise what we would normally object to. We owe it to our learners to do better and be better.

 
Two recent newspaper articles [1] [2] kept referring to one study that claimed that tuition did not have an impact on Singapore’s high PISA score. I question this research.

Today I reflect on how the articles might be focusing on a wrong question asked the wrong way: Does tuition impact Singapore’s PISA score?

It is a wrong question because it begs an oversimplistic “Yes” or “No” answer when the answer is likely “Depends”. There will be circumstances when tuition helps and when it does not.

Tuition is not a single entity. The are the sustained forms of remedial, enrichment, some combination of the two, or other forms. There are short interventions that focus on just-in-time test exam strategies. There are broad shot forms that deal with one or more academic subjects and there are formulaic forms that focus on specific subtopics and strategies.

Add to that messy practice the fact that a phenomenon like learning to take tests is complex and will have many contributing factors, e.g., school environment, home environment, learner traits, teacher traits, etc.

Wanting to know the impact of tuition, not just on PISA scores, but also on schooling and education in Singapore’s contexts are questions worth asking. A better way to ask one question might be: “How does tuition impact X (where X is the phenomenon)?”

This core question bracketed by: “What forms of tuition are there in Singapore?” and “What other factors influence the impact of this form of tuition?”

Methods-wise, the study would not just play the numbers game. Narratives flesh out and make the case for numbers or even explain what might seem counterintuitive.

We live in a post-truth world. You cannot believe everything you read online. You cannot take what you read offline or in newspapers at face value either.


Video source

This RSA video suggests a few problems with attempts at systemic educational change (39sec to 1min 24sec mark). One problem is teacher professional development that provides knowledge, but does not attempt to change behaviours.

To make matters worse, only one out of four teachers in OECD countries are rewarded for trying to be innovative (1min 56 to 2min 02 sec mark).

RSA suggest we stop asking the old question of “What works?” and instead encourage teachers to ask “What might work?” To do this, teachers must be problem-owners, solution designers, and risk-takers.

I shake my head in disbelief sometimes when I think about how inflexible some schools or teachers can be.

I know of some schools who have more liberal mobile device policies. As part of a consulting gig, I visited a primary school whose policy was to allow all students, even the youngest ones, to bring smartphones to school as long as the devices were kept in lockers.

Other schools have Amish-like policies on smartphones. I am very familiar with one that disallows cassettes, CD players, walkmans, VCDs, and pagers amongst other devices (see portion of handbook below).

handbook_rule

Even the Amish might remark that they do not use these devices not because they are against them but because they might have to rob a museum to get them!

The first type of school is more progressive in that it recognizes the modern demands of their stakeholders. Both parents are likely to be working and their child might have to find their own way home on arranged or public transport. Phones are critical for such daily updates.

That same school does not yet allow the use of the phones for lessons. However, they will have will not have to fight the battles of resistance among teachers, low buy-in among parents, or early “exploratory” use among students when the time comes for them to make that decision.

The second school will have a tougher time pulling itself out of the educational dark ages.

A rigid, backward, or disconnected policy also has a way of affecting the mindset of teachers. It can breed group think, inflexibility, and a fear of risk-taking.

My wife reminded me of something we experienced in the middle of the year. My son had answered a comprehension question on a passage about Elizabeth Choy being tortured during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore [1][2].

The correct answer to a question was that she was given “electric shocks”. My son did not get the full marks because he answered that she had been “electrocuted”. His teacher did not give him the full marks because he did not write down exactly what was in the passage.

This incensed my wife, an English teacher, who discussed it with my son’s teacher. My wife also asked her colleagues in school for their comments. Everyone except my son’s teacher agreed that getting an electric shock was the same as being electrocuted.

To be fair, there could have been more to the argument. Perhaps there was some comprehension skill that was tested that my son did not perform.

But perhaps the equivalent of copying and pasting was more important than interpretation and exercising vocabulary. Perhaps schooling was more important than education.

And perhaps these are examples of how teachers and schools risk losing relevance. The rest of the world sees the point of change and moves on, but teachers and schools do not.

Thanks to a retweet by @engrg1, I read this excerpt from a book. But I was a bit concerned when I read it.

I do not have the full context of the chapter, but I think that the paragraph stands alone well.

I fully agree with the last sentence (the bits underlined at the end). It is a call to do with what you have instead of making excuses. Find the time! Raise the money! Create buy-in and ownership! Make the effort!

But I wonder about the long term wisdom of just focusing on the HOWs of change and not the WHYs of it. I am not referring to the resistive WHYs. I am referring to the WHYs that provide a mission and drive things forward.

Those WHYs fuel the HOWs of finding the time, raising the money, creating buy-in and ownership, and making the effort.


http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: