15 June 2011

On frameworks

I'm sure the stats facilities of Blogger could tell me how many people have dropped by this blog, once, and then moved on. I do it all the time, dipping into blogs via RSS feeds. The really interesting ones I subscribe to, but I have to admit that many of them (principally those thrown up by my "teaching+learning+college+practice+teach+reflect" search string) are full of pious jargon-ridden bulls**t. Usually immaculately referenced.

Occasionally I come across sites like this one, or Don Clark's. I'm impressed by the amount of study and thought and experimentation which have gone into Don's ADDIE model. I wish I could be as systematic and organised. I wish I could bring together such an eclectic range of reading as does the author of the other linked site (although it does feel like a required assignment).

A while ago, I was trying to put something together on planning for teaching, and I made some effort to research the topic. Every textbook has something to say about it, and indeed the first pages I wrote for my main site were about how to do it. (You can see it is ancient--I still believed in "learning styles" then!)

In higher education, the most popular approach seems to be Biggs' "constructive alignment" (and here). But see David Jones' blog for a dissenting view-- I'm in awe of his scholarship, too. I'm just not convinced by any of them.

I don't believe anyone actually works like this; that they proceed step by step through a planning checklist or algorithm and eventually end up with a lesson plane or scheme of work of impeccable provenance which they actually implement (other than when they are being observed for assessment or inspection purposes, of course).

If I try to do that, I come up with something which is deeply boring and/or superficial, and I find myself back-tracking to change earlier stages in order to come up with something I can actually see myself teaching.
Which is a little embarrassing, because I teach this stuff!

And that's another problem, because students keep pressing me for a clear planning procedure.

So I was relieved to come across this (sort of) confession by Dan Ariely. It's not about teaching as such (but it is about how he teaches a subject in response to those demands), it's about marketing, but there are similarities of simplistic prescriptions;

Ariely's full blog posts with comments is here.

(Er--just don't tell my poor students who have to jump through these irrelevant hoops, particularly as they are submitting their final assessments! Although, to be fair, some of the simpler stuff can be justified on the basis of scaffolding, at the start of a career.)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:12 am

    Great post James!

    I feel really sorry for those poor saps you linked to who have put such effort into bringing together detailed systematic plans on the basis of such a wide range of sources, each one without any proven factual basis.

    Castles in the air, bless 'em.


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