Mainly about the practice of teaching and the experience of learning.
Used to be "Recent Reflection", but I've given up on the "reflection" business--it's so dilute, it's homeopathic.
11 November 2013
Items to Share: 10 November
Criticising the Obviously Wrong | Scenes From The Battleground'However, there is a problem in education research
that there is no agreement over epistemology; no identified methodology
which we can expect educationalists to use. That does mean one can never
assume beforehand that an educationalist has ever paid any attention to
the logic of, or empirical evidence for, their position in a way we
might expect from academics in some other fields.' (My own take in this area is here.)
...and When Big Data goes bad: 6 epic fails
including Ken Robinson's cavalier use of incomplete statistics, through
to Cyril Burt's fabrication of data on IQs. A must-read for anyone who
has to engage with what passes for educational "research".
How a Radical New Teaching Method Could Unleash a Generation of Geniuses | Wired Business '[...] young children, motivated by curiosity and
playfulness, teach themselves a tremendous amount about the world. And
yet when they reach school age, we supplant that innate drive to learn
with an imposed curriculum. “We’re teaching the child that his questions
don’t matter, that what matters are the questions of the curriculum.
That’s just not the way natural selection designed us to learn. It
designed us to solve problems and figure things out that are part of our
real lives.”' (Highly hyped, based on Sugata Mitra's strange ideas about leaving computers lying around for kids to figure out how to use for themselves, but interesting nonetheless.)
The problem of deep structure | Webs of Substance 'there is a tendency to assume that we can identify
the characteristics of expert performance and simply teach these
characteristics as a short-cut to expertise. For instance, perhaps we
find that expert writers of history essays plan their essays better than
novices. Should we try to teach the novices how to plan essays?
Perhaps. I suspect that most history teachers would do this. However, it
is worth wondering about the arrow of causation here. Perhaps experts
are experts because they have greater content knowledge to marshal.' This post (recommended on 1 September) also explores the limitations of a head on approach.
“I’m not a real professor. I just play one on the Internet.” | More or Less Bunk 'While we can never go back to a non-existent free and happy time when
professors were only in it for the sake of education, at least we can go
back to a free and happy time before administrators and the people who
want to sell them expensive edtech treated disruption like a positive
good, no matter how many people it hurts in the process.'
Performative Verbs: Interesting Thing of the Day'Performatives sound a bit mystical at first, like a
spell or incantation. But in fact such verbs are quite commonplace. If
you’ve ever said, “I promise” or “I apologize,” you have performed those
actions by the simple act of saying them. You’re not talking about
doing these things or stating that you’re doing them; you’re actually
doing them. The same is true when you say, “I bet,” “I invite,” “I
request,” or “I protest,” for example.' ("Performative" is a good and comprehensible word to cover J L Austin's "perlocutionary" and "illocutionary" aspects of language use, which I refer to tentatively here. This piece has set me going again on that train of thought, including the relevance of Lakoff, whom I am reading now.)
Anyone can learn to be a polymath – Robert Twigger – Aeon 'Science, for example, likes to project itself as
clean, logical, rational and unemotional. In fact, it’s pretty
haphazard, driven by funding and ego, reliant on inspired intuition by
its top-flight practitioners. Above all it is polymathic. New ideas
frequently come from the cross-fertilisation of two separate fields.
Francis Crick, who intuited the structure of DNA, was originally a
physicist; he claimed this background gave him the confidence to solve
problems that biologists thought were insoluble. Richard Feynman came up
with his Nobel Prize-winning ideas about quantum electrodynamics by
reflecting on a peculiar hobby of his — spinning a plate on his finger
(he also played the bongos and was an expert safe-cracker). Percy
Spencer, a radar expert, noticed that the radiation produced by
microwaves melted a chocolate bar in his pocket and developed microwave
"Huh" is the universal word - Boing Boing '"Huh" is not innate (other primates don't say it),
but the circumstances of its use (needing to quickly and briefly prompt
another speaker to repeat herself) are universal, so languages that
share no commonalities still converged on this word.'