recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : memorization   42

The UX design case of closed captions for everyone // Sebastian Greger
"Are video subtitles really chiefly for users who cannot hear or lack an audio device? A recent Twitter thread on “closed captions for the hearing” triggered a brief qualitative exploration and thought experiment – there may well be a growing group of users being forgotten in the design of closed captions.

Most commonly perceived as an auxiliary means for the hearing impaired, video subtitles, a.k.a. closed captions (CC), have only recently started to be widely considered as an affordance for users in situations with no audio available/possible (think mobile devices in public settings, libraries, shared office spaces); the latter to the extend that contemporary “social media marketing guidelines” strongly recommend subtitling video clips uploaded to Facebook, Twitter et al.

So: subtitles are for those who cannot hear, or with muted devices?

Who else uses closed captions?

I’m personally a great fan of closed captions, for various reasons unrelated to either of the above, and have often noticed certain limitations in their design. Hence, the user researcher inside me just did a somersault as I randomly encountered a Twitter thread [ ] following Jason Kottke asking his 247.000 followers:
After seeing several photos my (English-speaking, non-deaf) friends have taken of their TV screens over the past week, I’m realizing that many of you watch TV with closed captions (or subtitles) on?! Is this a thing? And if so, why?

The 150+ replies (I guess this qualifies as a reasonable sample for a qualitative analysis of sorts?) are a wonderful example of “accessibility features” benefiting everybody (I wrote about another instance recently [ ]). The reasons why people watch TV with closed captions on, despite having good hearing abilities and not being constrained by having to watch muted video, are manifold and go far beyond those two most commonly anticipated use cases.

[image: Close-up image of a video with subtitles (caption: "Closed captions are used by people with good hearing and audio playback turned on. An overseen use case?")]

Even applying a rather shallow, ex-tempore categorisation exercise based on the replies on Twitter, I end up with an impressive list to start with:

• Permanent difficulties with audio content
◦ audio processing disorders
◦ short attention span (incl., but not limited to clinical conditions)
◦ hard of hearing, irrespective of age
• Temporary impairments of hearing or perception
◦ watching under the influence of alcohol
◦ noise from eating chips while watching
• Environmental/contextual factors
◦ environment noise from others in the room (or a snoring dog)
◦ distractions and multitasking (working out, child care, web browsing, working, phone calls)
• Reasons related to the media itself
◦ bad audio levels of voice vs. music
• Enabler for improved understanding
◦ easier to follow dialogue
◦ annoyance with missing dialogue
◦ avoidance of misinterpretations
◦ better appreciation of dialogue
• Better access to details
◦ able to take note of titles of songs played
◦ ability to understand song lyrics
◦ re-watching to catch missed details
• Language-related reasons
◦ strong accents
◦ fast talking, mumbling
◦ unable to understand foreign language
◦ insecurity with non-native language
• Educational goals, learning and understanding
◦ language learning
◦ literacy development for children
◦ seeing the spelling of unknown words/names
◦ easier memorability of content read (retainability)
• Social reasons
◦ courtesy to others, either in need for silence or with a need/preference for subtitles
◦ presence of pets or sleeping children
◦ avoiding social conflict over sound level or distractions (“CC = family peace”)
• Media habits
◦ ability to share screen photos with text online
• Personal preferences
◦ preference for reading
◦ acquired habit
• Limitations of technology skills
◦ lack of knowledge of how to turn them off

An attempt at designerly analysis

The reasons range from common sense to surprising, such as the examples of closed captions used to avoid family conflict or the two respondents explicitly mentioning “eating chips” as a source of disturbing noise. Motivations mentioned repeatedly refer to learning and/or understanding, but also such apparently banal reasons like not knowing how to turn them off (a usability issue?). Most importantly, though, it becomes apparent that using CC is more often than not related to choice/preference, rather than to impairment or restraints from using audio.

At the same time, it becomes very clear that not everybody likes them, especially when forced to watch with subtitles by another person. The desire/need of some may negatively affect the experience of others present. A repeat complaint that, particularly with comedy, CC can kill the jokes may also hint at the fact that subtitles and their timing could perhaps be improved by considering them as more than an accessibility aid for those who would not hear the audio? (It appears as if the scenario of audio and CC consumed simultaneously is not something considered when subtitles are created and implemented; are we looking at another case for “exclusive design”?)

And while perceived as distracting when new – this was the starting point of Kottke’s Tweet – many of the comments share the view that it becomes less obtrusive over time; people from countries where TV is not dubbed in particular are so used to it they barely notice it (“becomes second nature”). Yet, there are even such interesting behaviours like people skipping back to re-read a dialogue they only listened to at first, as well as that of skipping back to be able to pay better attention to the picture at second view (e.g. details of expression) after reading the subtitles initially.

Last but not least, it is interesting how people may even feel shame over using CC. Only a conversation like the cited Twitter thread may help them realise that it is much more common than they thought. And most importantly that it has nothing to do with a perceived stigmatisation of being “hard of hearing”.

CC as part of video content design

The phenomenon is obviously not new. Some articles on the topic suggest that it is a generational habit [ ] of generation Z (though Kottke’s little survey proves the contrary), or even sees [ ] it as paranoid and obsessive-compulsive behaviour of “postmodern completists” as facilitated by new technological possibilities. Research on the benefits of CC for language learning, on the other hand, reaches back [ ] several decades.

No matter what – the phenomenon in itself is interesting enough to make this a theme for deeper consideration in any design project that contains video material. Because, after all, one thing is for sure: closed captions are not for those with hearing impairments or with muted devices alone – and to deliver great UX, these users should be considered as well."
closedcaptioning  subtitles  closedcaptions  text  reading  genz  generationz  audio  video  tv  film  dialogue  listening  howweread  2019  sebastiangreger  literacy  language  languages  ux  ui  television  ocd  attention  adhd  languagelearning  learning  howwelearn  processing  hearing  sound  environment  parenting  media  multimedia  clarity  accents  memory  memorization  children  distractions  technology  classideas 
24 days ago by robertogreco
Yong Zhao "What Works May Hurt: Side Effects in Education" - YouTube
"Proponents of standardized testing and privatization in education have sought to prove their effectiveness in improving education with an abundance of evidence. These efforts, however, can have dangerous side effects, causing long-lasting damage to children, teachers, and schools. Yong Zhao, Foundation Distinguished Professor in the School of Education at the University of Kansas, will argue that education interventions are like medical products: They can have serious, sometimes detrimental, side effects while also providing cures. Using standardized testing and privatization as examples, Zhao, author of the internationally bestselling Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, will talk about his new book on why and how pursuing a narrow set of short-term outcomes causes irreparable harm in education."
yongzhao  2018  schools  schooling  pisa  education  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  china  us  history  testscores  children  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  sideeffects  privatization  tims  math  reading  confidence  assessment  economics  depression  diversity  entrepreneurship  japan  creativity  korea  vietnam  homogenization  intolerance  prosperity  tolerance  filtering  sorting  humans  meritocracy  effort  inheritance  numeracy  literacy  achievementgap  kindergarten  nclb  rttt  policy  data  homogeneity  selectivity  charterschools  centralization  decentralization  local  control  inequity  curriculum  autonomy  learning  memorization  directinstruction  instruction  poverty  outcomes  tfa  teachforamerica  finland  singapore  miltonfriedman  vouchers  resilience  growthmindset  motivation  psychology  research  positivepsychology  caroldweck  intrinsicmotivation  choice  neoliberalism  high-stakestesting 
6 weeks ago by robertogreco
Why so many U.S. students aren’t learning math | University of California
"Stigler has also analyzed how other countries — such as Australia, Japan, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the Czech Republic — teach math and science, which, he says, helps us understand U.S. teaching practices more clearly.

“American students think math is about memorizing procedures,” Stigler said. “They’re not learning in a deep way. They think learning is supposed to be easy. That’s really not what learning is about. Students need practice in the things they can’t learn by doing a Google search. They need to think and struggle — like when they are practicing a sport or a musical instrument.”

In other countries, students are asked to work on a variety of problems. In the U.S., students work on many repetitions of, essentially, the same problem, making it unnecessary for U.S. students to think hard about each individual problem. We teach math as disconnected facts and as a series of steps or procedures — do this, and this and this — without connecting procedures with concepts, and without thinking or problem-solving.

“Don’t just memorize it and spit it back on the test,” Stigler said.

American eighth graders, for example, rarely spend time engaged in the serious study of mathematical concepts, Stigler said. Japanese eighth graders, in contrast, engage in serious study of mathematical concepts and are asked to develop their own solutions for math problems that they have not seen before.

Stigler thinks this memorization of facts and procedures applies to the teaching of many subjects in the United States.

Improving teaching has proven to be extremely difficult, and efforts to do so have achieved only limited success. But this disappointing record has not discouraged Stigler.

One of his projects, funded by a grant from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is to create and continually improve a university course. The course, which focuses on introductory statistics, includes an online, interactive “textbook” with more than 100 web pages and about 800 assessment questions.

Stigler began creating the course in 2015 in collaboration with Ji Son, a professor at Cal State Los Angeles, and Karen Givvin, a UCLA researcher and adjunct professor of psychology. He taught the course for the first time last spring and is doing so again this quarter.

As students work their way through the course, Stigler and his team collect all the data and can see what the students are learning and what they are not learning.

“Most professors don’t realize how little information we have about how much students are learning,” Sigler said. “I observed a professor once give a lecture where not a single student said anything. I asked him afterwards how he thought it went, and he thought it was great. But how could he tell if it was clear to the students without eliciting any information from students?”

With his interactive course, Stigler can get real-time information. He offers his statistics course for free to any instructor in exchange for getting access to the data showing what, and how, students are learning.

His goal is incremental improvement in teaching, believing that rapid, dramatic results are not realistic. “I want millions of students to get one percent better every year in what they learn,” Stigler said.

Stigler and Givvin are playing leading roles in a new organization, the Precision Institute — created by National University to test innovative teaching ideas and collect data with the goal of helping to solve some of the most challenging issues in higher education. Stigler is one of the institute’s first fellows. National University, a San Diego-based non-profit, offers more than 100 programs, both online and at more than two dozen locations in California and Nevada, and has more than 150,000 alumni.

Through the Precision Institute and its National Precision Research and Innovation Network, National University gets researchers to address its educational challenges, while researchers get to test their education theories in real time in a university setting.

Stigler hopes to add his statistics course to the National University curriculum. Ideas that work can be implemented at National University right away.

Students in the same course can be randomly assigned to use different materials, and Stigler and his team can analyze data and figure out which approach is more effective. Stigler will soon do this in his UCLA undergraduate statistics course and will bring this approach to the National University project as well.

“We’re improving the course while students are taking the course,” said Stigler, who believes strongly in the importance of collecting data to see what actually helps students learn. “We’re trying to measure what they actually learn and figure out how we can help them to learn more.”

Any academic content area could profit from this approach, and the intent of Stigler’s research team is to broaden its application in the future.

“I don’t know what the answers are and don’t have an ax to grind,” Stigler said. “I don’t want to argue in the abstract about theories of education. Let’s test ideas on the ground and see which ones help students.”

Teaching is hard to change. Stigler and Givvin are struck by how similar teaching methods are within each country they have studied, and the striking differences in methods they observed across countries. While the United States is very diverse, the national variation in eighth grade mathematics teaching is much smaller than Stigler and Givvin expected to find.

“The focus on teachers has some merit, of course,” Stigler said, “but we believe that a focus on improving of teaching — the methods that teachers use in the classroom — will yield greater returns.

“Even the countries at the top are trying to improve teaching and learning,” Stigler said. “It is a central problem faced by all societies.”"
math  mathematics  education  teaching  howweteach  us  learning  children  jamesstigler  jison  problemsolving  memorization  howwelearn 
october 2018 by robertogreco
'The connection between education and democracy should be clear'
"Simon Creasey meets the academic calling for teachers to revolt against the ‘pedagogy of oppression’ and demand due payment for their overlooked role in underpinning democracy

Henry Giroux wants teachers to mobilise. He wants them to rise up and launch a revolutionary movement in order to eradicate what he calls a “pedagogy of oppression” that has permeated the education system, both in the UK and in his native US. Teachers and teachers’ unions should work with parents to pressure governments to focus education on creating “informed citizens”, he says, not learning-by-rote simply to get students to pass their exams and become workforce-ready.

This is a push for change that Giroux has been working on for some time. He currently holds the McMaster University chair for scholarship in the public interest, in Ontario, Canada. But he has been an education academic for decades and penned numerous books. He’s insistent on this course of action because “you cannot have a democracy without an informed citizenry”.

“We live in a culture that thrives on ignorance, refuses to invest in education, flees from the obligations of shared citizenship and ignores what it means to provide a decent life for everyone, especially children,” says Giroux.

“[In this environment,] politics degenerates into a pathology and education is reduced to a form of training.”

'We need to have a dialogue'
To emphasise his point, he cites the election of Donald Trump – a president who is on record claiming that he “loves the poorly educated”.

“[Trump’s election win] is not just about a crisis of politics; it’s about the crisis of education, it’s about the crisis of civic literacy,” he says. So, how do teachers contribute to putting this right?

As a starting point, he thinks a discussion needs to be had about the true purpose of education. “We need to have a dialogue about what teachers can do to, in a sense, ensure that education is viewed as a public good and that it is tied to a democratic project that would be used to prepare students to be engaged, critical and informed citizens,” Giroux says. “We’ve got to ditch this notion that the only purpose of education is basically to educate people for the workforce or that the most important aspect of education is learning 25 different ways to teach. That’s just silly, it’s reductionistic and it turns teachers into automatons.

“This type of educational reform is really about deskilling teachers and turning education into an adjunct of the corporate workplace. It kills any notion of the imagination, and what we usually end up with is people teaching for the test. We end up with people basically implementing what I call ‘pedagogies of oppression’.”

Giroux explains that a pedagogy of oppression is one that essentially “assaults” a student’s imagination. “It often emphasises memorisation; it places a strong emphasis on harsh forms of discipline; it can result in enormously unproductive and poisonous forms of racism; it usually teaches for the test,” he says. “It embraces standardisation as a measure of knowledge and it does everything it can to basically shut down any sense of curiosity and any sense of teaching students – and teachers for that matter – what it means to exercise a degree of civic courage, to take risks, to doubt, to in some way be critically conscious of the world, to explore the full capacity of their imagination, and to open the world and themselves in a way in which they can embrace and expand their capacity to be real social-political agents.”

Giroux believes that we should educate educators in a way that enables them to fulfil the “civic purpose” of education.

“I think that increasingly gets lost in the commercialisation, the corporatisation, the commodification and the standardisation of education,” he says. “These are forces that have been highly influenced by a corporate state that doesn’t really recognise the relationship – and doesn’t want to recognise the relationship – between education and democracy, and I think teachers need to seize upon and develop a new language for understanding the purpose of education.”

Giroux identifies another issue: the things that children are being taught in schools typically bear no relation to the world in which they live – a world that is heavily influenced by social media, popular culture and mainstream media.

“To me, this is tragic because when that happens, schools often translate into dead zones of education and spaces of abandonment,” he argues. “They become places that seem irrelevant to young people. They seem to have no meaning except for an elite who need the credentials to get into Oxford, Cambridge, Yale or Harvard.”

He is similarly depressed by what he perceives to be a “deskilling” of teachers that has been brought about by the “audit culture” that pervades the education system in the US and UK. Educators, he believes, should push against or ignore it.

“Teachers can’t just close their door and say ‘I’m going to do everything I can to avoid this’,” says Giroux. “They need to organise collectively. They need to bring the power of a collective teacher’s union, and the power of working with parents and young people, to begin to put pressure on governments because in the final analysis what is at stake here is changing policy. That is, changing policies that are oppressive and endlessly put into play.”

‘Great social movement’

What is important, he says, it that such a reaction is not politically aligned. Giroux explains that “the notion of creating informed and critical students cuts across ideological lines” and that it “should be attractive to anyone who believes that schooling is crucial to creating informed citizens”.

To do this, teachers need to have a clear idea of their larger role in society and this role needs to be self-defined. “Teachers have to become part of a great social movement in which they define themselves as a public resource,” says Giroux.

He argues that, as part of this movement, teachers should fight for policies that advocate more funding for education, more autonomy for teachers and higher pay.

“Teachers should be paid like doctors and they should be professionalised in ways that suggest they are a valued part of any society, which is what they are,” says Giroux. “Schools matter in a democracy and teachers should be one of the most valued groups of people that we have in our society, yet at the same time they are the most belittled, the most dehumanised and the most exploited among professionals – and I think that’s because we have no faith in democracy.

“We can’t seem to make the connection between teaching, education and democracy, and I think that teachers need to make that connection and they need to make it loud and clear. They need to talk about public schools and higher education as democratic public spheres and they need to make clear that what they do is absolutely vital to the nature of society itself – and they need to fight for it.”

Picking sides

Although he concedes that he is “utterly pessimistic” about the changes that have taken place to the education system in the US since the 1980s – the public schools sector in particular – he is quietly optimistic about the future. “I think we’ve reached a breaking point where many people are refusing to accept what we call the ‘school to prison’ pipeline,” says Giroux.

“They’re refusing to accept the racism that goes on in schools with kids being expelled and thrown out of schools, and we have also seen this huge revolt in the US against teaching for the test. More and more people are now realising that education is one of the few protected spaces and battlefronts left over which we can defend any notion of a liberal education. An education that is engaged in creating critical citizens and furthering the parameters of a democratic society.”

Regardless of whether this change is happening as quickly as Giroux feels it must, he is clear that we are at a point where teachers need to pick sides.

“Democracy is in crisis around the world and to address that crisis, education needs to be reclaimed as a moral and political project willing to address the future with a degree of civic courage and educated hope,” he says. “In this case, the struggle to reclaim the democratic function of education is not an option, it is a necessity.”"
simoncreasey  henrygiroux  children  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  teachers  teaching  democracy  oppression  pedagogy  civics  politics  pathology  education  standardization  racism  race  rote  rotelearning  learning  corporatism  memorization  resistance  socialmedia  popularculture  society  elitism  credentials  us  uk  policy  autonomy  unions  organization  2018  sfsh 
february 2018 by robertogreco
The Marco Rubio Disaster, rote learning and getting the answer right – Dave's Educational Blog
"I believe that our education system is a society building machine. I believe that the way we build it, the practices we foster, the underlying concepts in it make citizens a certain way. I totally understand that people want our schools to be accountable, but the choices we have made for accountability have created a society where people believe that repetition is true. We believe that there are correct answers to all questions. That’s how tests work isn’t it? Don’t we represent power in our classrooms through teachers who present and test for correct answers?

It is MUCH easier to check and see if a teacher is doing their work if ‘doing their work’ is the same as getting students to deliver the right answer. We’ve always recognized this. We turn to ‘project based learning’ to give people a chance to do explore, to deal with uncertainty, to make their own answers. Super inconvenient though, PBL. I mean, the students have 6 hours to get something done so… it’s much easier to provide some structure so that they can get there in that time. Teachers change, people start to realize that that structure is way easier to measure than the random things that students think… and then we start to measure the structure.

I’ve come to realize that rhizomatic learning (and many other, similar projects – see connectivism, heutagogy etc…) is about creating a different kind of citizen in our little society building machine. I’m hoping to encourage citizens who can, among other things, see what Rubio is doing not just when he so majestically did it in a five minute span, but when he repeats for truth over the course of a campaign. I would love to be part of encouraging citizens who get MORE suspicious as things are repeated rather than less. To destabilize the brand message so that it was less effective. To make it so that we did not look for TRUTH but rather negotiated truths that included more people.

I think certainty in schools is a key battleground. We need to stop getting the answer right."
davecormier  marcorubio  education  rhizomaticlearning  howwelearn  howweteach  measurement  assessment  certainty  learning  schools  connectivism  heutagogycitizenship  society  democracy  memorization  rote  rorelearning  projectbasedlearning  structure  unschooling  deschooling  progressive  progressiveeducation  uncertainty  teachers  pedagogy 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Problem With Math Problems: We're Solving Them Wrong - The New York Times
"The following question, from a mother concerned about her daughter’s math education, landed in my email box recently:
My husband and I talked to our daughter’s pre-calculus teacher about her poor grades. He said that many students hit a wall at this point in math, moving from memorization — apply this theorem to this problem — to more abstract how-can-I-solve-this-problem thinking. I accepted that because that’s what is happening for her. What I thought later was that why can’t we find a way to help these many students get over that wall, instead of using it as a tool to weed out less developed brains? I really feel I have no way to have an impact on this teacher’s blind spot since it is shared by all math teachers and so many other teachers: If you don’t understand, it’s your fault.

As I’m not a math teacher, I asked three experts on mathematics instruction to weigh in. They told me that this question perfectly illustrates what’s wrong with math education and why we need to change it. Much of what we teach kids during their first decade of math education relies on students’ blind compliance and memorization of rules and facts. We reward correct answers, but we do not not encourage students to think independently about what these rules and facts might mean in the bigger mathematical picture.

Tracy Zager, a math-education specialist and the author of the forthcoming book “Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had,” explained in an email why this kind of math education fails students: “It was never a sensible idea to try to have students memorize first and understand later; this approach to mathematics instruction is structurally flawed. I really feel for these parents and this kid, but the frustration they face is inevitable. If we teach kids math without understanding, we build on a house of cards.”

That house of cards will be fragile, and liable to collapse, when students move from elementary mathematics to complex problem-solving, said Steven Strogatz, an author and a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University.

“If you follow the rules, you can do pretty much everything that’s expected of you without ever having to think imaginatively,” Mr. Strogatz said in an email. “This is not the way math should be taught, even at an elementary level. There really ought to be problem solving and imaginative thinking all the way through while kids master the basics. If you’ve never been asked to struggle with open-ended, non-cookbook problems, your command of math will always be shaky and shallow.”

Mr. Strogatz suggested, however, that this math teacher isn’t wholly to blame for her students’ frustration. “This teacher may have been brought up in a culture in which skill at problem solving is seen as a matter of talent; either you have it or you don’t,” he said. “Everyone can be taught techniques and strategies for better problem solving, and can be taught to feel pleasure in the struggles that make us smarter. With practice, all of us can get much better at it.”

While avoiding the kind of frustration this mother describes in her letter will require a larger shift in mathematics education, there are some things this parent can do now to help her daughter.

Mr. Strogatz suggested playing with age-appropriate puzzles. “Kids love puzzles, and wrestling with good ones can help them fall in love with math and get stronger at it,” he said.

After playing around on a couple of recommended websites, I fell in love with with Steve Miller’s Math Riddles. Mr. Miller, a mathematics professor at Williams College, has amassed a wonderful collection of puzzles, ranging from easy to very challenging, and even I, an admitted math phobic, had a lot of fun playing on the site.

For teachers and parents looking to improve their own problem-solving abilities, Mr. Strogatz recommended George Polya’s book “How to Solve It.” While it’s not exactly light reading, it introduces new ways to approach problems, and is a classic in the field.

Purchase two copies of Carol Dweck’s Mindset, one for you and one for your child’s teacher. Ms. Dweck’s book is already required reading in many school districts because it articulates the difference between a fixed mindset (either you have it or you don’t) and a growth mindset (everyone can be taught to feel pleasure in the struggles that make us smarter). A growth mindset is a powerful thing and is an essential first step toward more effective teaching and learning (and parenting).

If you are frustrated by your child’s math homework and want to improve your capacity to help, read Christopher Danielson’s “Common Core Math for Parents for Dummies,” which will be published this month. Mr. Danielson’s book can help parents reorient their thinking about mathematics so that they can begin to help their children more effectively.

And check out Mr. Strogatz’s New York Times series, on the “Elements of Math.” It begins with a preschooler’s understanding of numeracy and progresses all the way through to an examination of infinity. Tellingly, the most advanced topic discussed in the series was inspired by a 6-year-old’s question.

Above all, Mr. Strogatz concluded: “It’s crucial to help our students realize that it’s fine to get stuck – after all, the life of a professional mathematician (or any other creative person) is about being stuck nearly all the time! It’s how you get past being stuck that matters. And that’s one of the most valuable lessons that math has to offer.”"
math  education  teaching  problemsolving  memorization  criticalthinking  2015  stevenstrogatz  tracyzager  howweteach  howwelearn  context  mathematics  via:christaflores 
september 2015 by robertogreco
My Objections to the Common Core State Standards (1.0) : Stager-to-Go
"The following is an attempt to share some of my objections to Common Core in a coherent fashion. These are my views on a controversial topic. An old friend I hold in high esteem asked me to share my thoughts with him. If you disagree, that’s fine. Frankly, I spent a lot of time I don’t have creating this document and don’t really feel like arguing about the Common Core. The Common Core is dying even if you just discovered it.

This is not a research paper, hence the lack of references. You can Google for yourself. Undoubtedly, this post contains typos as well. I’ll fix them as I find them.

This critique shares little with the attacks from the Tea Party or those dismissed by the Federal Education Secretary or Bill Gates as whiney parents.

I have seven major objections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

1. The CCSS are a solution in search of a problem.

2. The CCSS were implemented in a remarkably undemocratic fashion at great public expense to the benefit of ideologues and corporations.

3. The standards are preposterous and developmentally inappropriate.

4. The inevitable failure of the Common Core cannot be blamed on poor implementation when poor implementation is baked into the design.

5. Standardized curriculum lowers standards, diminishes teacher agency, and lowers the quality of educational experiences.

6. The CCSS will result in an accelerated erosion of public confidence in public education.

7. The requirement that CCSS testing be conducted electronically adds unnecessary complexity, expense, and derails any chance of computers being used in a creative fashion to amplify student potential."

[continues on to elaborate on each objection, some pull quotes here]

"there is abundant scholarship by Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Gerald Bracey, Deborah Meier, and others demonstrating that more American kids are staying in school longer than at any time in history. If we control for poverty, America competes quite favorably against any other nation in the world, if you care about such comparisons."

"As my colleague and mentor Seymour Papert said, “At best school teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the world and yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is important enough to teach.” Schools should prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated with the confidence and competence necessary to overcome any obstacle, even if only to discover that there is more to learn."

"When teachers are not required to make curricular decisions and design curriculum based on the curiosity, thinking, understanding, passion, or experience of their students, the resulting loss in teacher agency makes educators less thoughtful and reflective in their practice, not more. The art of teaching has been sacrificed at the expense of reducing pedagogical practice to animal control and content delivery."

"The singular genius of George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind legislation (kicked-up a notch by Obama’s Race-to-the-Top) was the recognition that many parents hate school, but love their kids’ teachers. If your goal is to privatize education, you need to concoct a way to convince parents to withdraw support for their kid’s teacher. A great way to achieve that objective is by misusing standardized tests and then announcing that your kid’s teacher is failing your kid. This public shaming creates a manufactured crisis used to justify radical interventions before calmer heads can prevail.

These standardized tests are misunderstood by the public and policy-makers while being used in ways that are psychometrically invalid. For example, it is no accident that many parents confuse these tests with college admissions requirements. Using tests designed to rank students mean that half of all test-takers be below the norm and were never intended to measure teacher efficacy.

The test scores come back up to six months after they are administered, long after a child advances to the next grade. Teachers receive scores for last year’s students, with no information on the questions answered incorrectly. These facts make it impossible to use the testing as a way of improving instruction, the stated aim of the farcical process."

"It is particularly ironic how much of the public criticism of the Common Core is related to media accounts and water cooler conversations of the “crazy math” being taught to kids. There are actually very few new or more complex concepts in the Common Core than previous math curricula. In fact, the Common Core hardly challenges any of the assumptions of the existing mathematics curriculum. The Common Core English Language Arts standards are far more radical. Yet, our innumerate culture is up in arms about the “new new math” being imposed by the Common Core.

What is different about the Common Core approach to mathematics, particularly arithmetic, is the arrogant imposition of specific algorithms. In other words, parents are freaking out because their kids are being required to solve problems in a specific fashion that is different from how they solve similar problems.

This is more serious than a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. The problem is teaching tricks at all. There are countless studies by Constance Kamii and others demonstrating that any time you teach a child the algorithm, you commit violence against their mathematical understanding. Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world and Piaget teaches us that it is not the job of the teacher to correct the child from the outside, but rather to create the conditions in which they correct themselves from the inside. Mathematical problem solving does not occur in one way no matter how forcefully you impose your will on children. If you require a strategy competing with their own intuitions, you add confusion that results in less confidence and understanding.

Aside from teaching one algorithm (trick), another way to harm a child’s mathematical thinking development is to teach many algorithms for solving the same problem. Publishers make this mistake frequently. In an attempt to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which various children solve problems, those strategies are identified and then taught to every child. Doing so adds unnecessary noise, undermines personal confidence, and ultimately tests memorization of tricks (algorithms) at the expense of understanding.

This scenario goes something like this. Kids estimate in lots of different ways. Let’s teach them nine or ten different ways to estimate, and test them along the way. By the end of the process, many kids will be so confused that they will no longer be able to perform the estimation skill they had prior to the direct instruction in estimation. Solving a problem in your head is disqualified."
garystager  commoncore  2015  education  policy  schools  publicschools  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  learning  teaching  pedagogy  technology  testing  democracy  process  implementation  agency  howweteach  howwelearn  publicimage  seymourpapert  numeracy  matheducation  math  mathematics  numbersense  understanding  memorization  algorithms  rttt  gatesfoundation  pearson  nclb  georgewbush  barackobama 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Your Nostalgia Isn’t Helping Me Learn — The Synapse — Medium
[See also: ]

"These stories keep popping up, recycling the same studies and confirming someone’s intuition that the “good old-fashioned way” is better.

But contrary to these claims, I would not have made it through my years of university courses without the technology I use every day. And I don’t mean specific “assistive technology” designed with “disabilities” in mind. I’m talking here about the notes I make on my phone when I’m chatting with someone, which serve as an extension of my brain — the course project documents, folders of articles, collected syllabi, images, screenshots, and more that are always available on my laptop or anywhere through my synchronized folders.

I rely on the over 170 notebooks in Evernote where I practically wrote my entire MA thesis and where I track all current projects, personal and academic. I worked a full time job for much of my undergraduate education and part of my MA and was able to do this because of the ability to search through all 70,000+ email messages from the last 15 years, the ability to search inside a journal article, search a PDF of a book and copy/paste the text. This technology is assistive for me as a student very simply because all technology is assistive technology.

“Research Shows”

Surely we can agree then that all technology is assistive. But what about in the classroom? What’s missing from these popular articles when they claim technology is a distraction in the classroom? How do they conclude assistive technology is getting in the way of learning when so many students like myself rely on it? And what are the consequences of banning technology in the classroom?

I’ll start by taking that article from Vox and looking at some of the claims. After that, I’ll look at what’s happening in classrooms where technology is banned.

I. The Vox article defines learning as remembering information. That’s funny, because learning is not memorizing, and I think all educators would agree on that.

At the same time that many educators will tell us testing misses the mark in evaluating students and that learning isn’t about facts and figures but about critical thinking skills, articles like this are shared widely with the opposite message: learning is your “ability to remember information.” But it isn’t, it’s your ability to synthesize information, think critically, and evaluate claims.

II. This article claims the problem with taking notes on laptops is that students “usually just mindlessly type everything a professor says.” But this isn’t actually a claim about taking notes on laptops vs. paper notebooks, this is an issue of note taking skills. I wouldn’t conflate the Vox article with the study it cites here, but on this point what Vox reports matches the abstract of the study quite well. I don’t agree, instead I’d suggest that if you have good note taking skills you can take good notes in any format.

If you are taught to discern what matters in a lecture or discussion or while reading, you can learn to take useful notes about anything in any format. This problem they bring up of students acting as stenographers is an issues of learning to learn, learning to think critically and yes these are skills that students need. The fact that they don’t have them certainly isn’t the fault of laptops, in fact we should be grateful that we can see they don’t have them by how they are (mis)using the laptops. As educators do we really like the idea that students can only decide what matters because “they can’t write fast enough to get everything down”?

III. The article says students who use laptops “have something unrelated to class” on the screen about 40% of the time. So…. they’re actually talking about a failure to “learn” among students who aren’t using the technology to engage in the class at all? These students are chatting with friends, shopping, doing whatever. So, what does this have to do with the technology or taking notes on a laptop? What does this have to do with using a laptop to learn? Nothing. But still, we get this summary “Research shows students who use laptops perform more poorly in classes.”

IV. Of course, the whole argument is all summed up as common sense, validated by science! What could go wrong with that and with popular reporting about it? If science AND common sense are clear on this — well, it must be true for all students, or maybe not? It certainly isn’t true for me or for other students I’ve seen and spoken with.

I’m picking on this Vox article because it is precisely this kind of article that is shared on Facebook and Twitter and through email lists, without being carefully read, without being critically analyzed. And it winds up standing in for well thought out technology policy and pedagogy in classrooms. I think it’s pretty ironic that the same people who get so excited about the article’s title (“Why you should take notes by hand — not on a laptop”) because it validates their pre-existing distrust of “technology” (i.e. everything invented after they were born), these same people then fail to think critically about the argument in the article. Hmmm…. Maybe they’re actually the ones who have trouble thinking critically when using a laptop?"

"Classrooms on the Anti-Tech Bandwagon

I’m now seeing Professors jumping on this bandwagon and proudly banning technology in the classroom. And even those who don’t are giving students lectures in class about how we should ban e-books at the university library, and telling students who use laptops in class they should really be writing in a notebook, that is, if they really want to learn… Faculty are even adding notes to their syllabi …"

"The pressure to use “real books” and write in a notebook (preferably a moleskine, right?) has emerged as part of a growing anti-technology fetish among academics, and popular culture broadly. I get the appeal and I love books! I would love it if I could do that, I want all paper books, a room full of them, with ferns and armchairs and whisky and whatever — but it just isn’t how I learn. And it’s expensive, and you have to move them around. And you can’t search in them in the same way. The more precarious academic lives become the more a book collection is a luxury many can’t afford in terms of cost and other factors.

For students like me, technology use in the classroom comes down to a question of how we learn. I need to be able to search a book, copy and paste passages. I’m a scholar because I have technology that allows me to organize, sort, and synthesize information that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to work with. I didn’t learn to be a scholar with paper and pen, or with a typewriter. And I wouldn’t have been able to make it through my degree programs, and excel at my studies, write a thesis, publish papers — without being able to use this technology. I, and many students out there like me, rely on laptops, tablets, phones, and online software in the classroom because it is all assistive technology."
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing  sarahendren  commonsense 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Michael Oman-Reagan on Twitter: "In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism"
[Update: This has now been expanded into an article: ]

"In which I point out some issues w/ a "you learn better without a laptop!" article. #ableism "

[In response to “To Remember More, Take Notes by Hand — Not on a Laptop: ” ]

"Or not, depending on how you learn, think, act, what media you're engaging with, etc. @calestous @SallieHanAnthro"

"While we're on it - let's look at what's going on in this article about taking notes in writing vs typing: "

"First: They define learning as remembering information. Huh? Learning =/= memorizing. "

"Second: They aren't talking abt laptops vs notebooks, they're talking abt note taking skills. "

"Third: They're talking abt students who aren't using tech to be engaged in the class at all. "

"And finally, of course, it's common sense, validated by science. What could go wrong... "

"Of course what's wrong is they are ignoring fact that the tech is assistive for students who know how to use it. "

"So the key is to teach people how to use the tech. Not use those who take useless notes and shop as excuse. "
michaeloman-reagan  notes  notetaking  assistivetechnology  ableism  laptops  education  technology  notebooks  memorization  learning  howwelearn  engagement  thinking  howwethink  howweteach  media  2015  typing  handwriting  copying  summarizing  transcribing 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Handwriting v. Laptops? Why People Ask the Wrong Question (and Why Think Pair Share Rules Yet Again) | HASTAC
"You wouldn't learn to play golf by attending a lecture about how to play golf. Of course. But there are other things that are important to your life that you have to just memorize and lectures don't work there either: You would not prepare for the written portion of your driver's test from a lecture. You would not prepare for a written citizenship test by attending a lecture about citizenship. The Kaplan people don't charge $$$ to help you prep for standardized college entrance tests by lecturing at you--and if they did, you would demand your money back.

Think about that. You know how you learn important things that you need in your daily life and it isn't from a lecture. If you had to take a test and you needed to retain content for a test that really mattered in your life, you would not choose to do it by sitting in someone's lecture about the content and taking notes (not notes by laptop, not notes by longhand). You would read the booklet or the website, you might take practice tests, you would see what you got right and what you got wrong, you would retake the practice tests, and on and on.

Now, if you teach at a university where you have hundreds of students in a class, you might think you have to lecture. Perhaps. But there are low cost ways of engaging students even in a large lecture hall. There's been a lot of talk about the "flipped classroom," where students watch a video of a lecture, read the material, and then come in and, instead of a lecture, there's a Socratic form of the dialogic question and answer session. Law schools have operated that way for decades.

But even better is the method called Think-Pair-Share. It's done low cost, with index cards, and you can read about it in detail here, "Single Best Way to Transform Classrooms of Any Size" I learned this method from a second-grade teacher. At any point in a class (in school or I do it in every lecture I give to a general audience too), you have students write the answer to a question you pose on an index card. I typically have them write three things. 90 seconds. Tops. Quick is best. Then I have them turn to another person, compare their six things, and together decide on the one best answer they want to present ("share") with the group as a whole where, of course, there will be other answers also arrived at through a similar dialogic process. When they share their answer with the larger group, they hear it in a new way, in a context of other answers. Sometimes we'll even have a "redo" after the general presentation, starting with three things, a discussion with one other partner, and then sharing--rarely do we hear the same things on the redo. This is brilliant method and structure for introverts, because somehow writing down on a card first makes it less painful to then discuss it with someone else and offer an idea out of seemingly nowhere. It tames that too-extroverted student who usually dominates class time. It makes for a far more diverse set of ideas and a richer experience.

Plus, unlike the binary of handwriting down a lecture versus typing down lecture notes, which persists with the same model of learning that we know is least effective for retention, applicability, and improvement, this turns content into process, dialogue, requires active engagement. And it is practical. One prof in the comment section on the blog cited above has her students sign their cards and turn them in: attendance, pop quiz, AND great learning exercise all at once."
education  learning  technology  laptops  handwriting  lectures  typing  2014  memorization  testing 
august 2014 by robertogreco
‘The Procedure’ and how it is harming education
"Imagine John as the best middle school science teacher in America. Put him in an expertly administered upper-class suburban school. Assign him smart, healthy, highly motivated kids, drawn from advanced placement classes. Be sure each has two college-educated, happily married parents.Limit his class to no more than a dozen, and schedule it for late morning when they’re sharpest.

Now, hand John that 776-page textbook to distribute—the one organized like the contents of a dumpster at a demolition site—and assure him it covers the material that will be on the high-stakes tests.

What will happen? Almost certainly, at the end of the term every kid in John’s class will ace the test, and everybody—kids, parents, administrators, school board, the local newspaper, cable news—will be impressed and happy.

Everybody except John. He won’t be impressed and happy because (remember?) he’s the best middle school science teacher in America, and he knows—notwithstanding the test scores—how little his students actually learned in their race to the end of the textbook. They slam-dunked the test not because they learned a lot of science but because they followed The Procedure.

The Procedure: 1. Take notes during lectures, and hi-lite key sentences in the textbook. 2. Before a big test, load the notes and hi-lited passages into short-term memory. 3. Take the test. 4. Flush short-term memory and prepare for its re-use.

It’s no exaggeration to say that just about everybody in the country thinks The Procedure isn’t just acceptable but essential. It’s so broadly used, so familiar, so taken-for-granted, that many schools and universities go to great pains to accommodate it. Some even have rituals to enhance it.

The Procedure, of course, is called “cramming.” Do it well and it leads steadily up the academic ladder.

But here’s a question: Does The Procedure have anything do with educating?

Learning—real LEARNING—starts when, for whatever reason, the learner wants it to start. It proceeds if the aim is clear and what’s being learned connects logically and solidly to existing knowledge. It’s strengthened when mistakes are made, clarifying the potential and limitations of the new knowledge. It’s reinforced when it’s put to frequent, immediate, meaningful, real-world use. It becomes permanent when it’s made part of the learner’s organized, consciously known “master” structure of knowledge.

Slow down for a moment and think about it. Cramming is indisputable proof of the superficiality and inefficiency—even the failure—of what’s going on in most classrooms across America. What’s crammed wasn’t learned or there would be no need to cram; what’s crammed isn’t learned or it wouldn’t be forgotten.

In the real world, where it counts, the gap between crammers and learners is vast, and tends to widen over time. Unfortunately, the thus-far-successful “reform” effort to cover the standard material at a standard pace, and replace teacher judgment with machine-scored standardized tests has further institutionalized cramming and hidden the failure its use proves.

What a waste!

Here’s a fact: Information overload is just one of about two-dozen serious problems directly or indirectly connected to our 19th Century core curriculum. Sadly, no, tragically, instead of rethinking that curriculum, starting with its fundamental premises and assumptions, reformers have considered it so nearly perfect they’re determined to force it on every kid in America.

Aren’t we going at the job backwards? Shouldn’t we be doing just the opposite—developing and capitalizing on the learner diversity that enables humankind to adapt to change?"
marionbrady  2014  memorization  cramming  learning  schools  teaching  education  standardizedtesting  testing  academics  policy 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Mark Eichenlaub's answer to Learning: Do grad school students remember everything they were taught in college all the time? - Quora
""you've got to forget the memorizing of formulas, and to try to learn to understand the interrelationships of nature. That's very much more difficult at the beginning, but it's the only successful way."

Feynman's advice is a common theme in learning. Beginners want to memorize the details, while experts want to communicate a gestalt.

Foreign language students talk about how many words they've memorized, but teachers see this as the most trivial component of fluency. Novice musicians try to get the notes and rhythms right, while experts want to find their own interpretation of the piece's aesthetic. Math students want to memorize theorems while mathematicians seek a way of thinking instead. History students see lists of dates and facts while professors see personality, context, and narrative. In each case, the beginner is too overwhelmed by details to see the whole. They look at a cathedral and see a pile of 100,000 stones."
richardfeynman  learning  understanding  via:tealtan  memorization  context  narrative  fluency  interconnectedness  nature  intelligence  details  interconnected  interconnectivity 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Rediscovering Literacy [Way too much here, quotes are from only the beginning]
"Literacy used to be a very subtle concept that meant linguistic sophistication. It used to denote a skill that could be developed to arbitrary levels of refinement through practice.  Literacy meant using mastery over language — both form and content — to sustain a relentless and increasingly sophisticated pursuit of greater meaning. It was about an appreciative, rather than instrumental use of language. Language as a means of seeing rather than as a means of doing…

The written form itself was merely a convenience…

Before Gutenberg, you demonstrated true literacy not by reading a text out aloud and taking down dictation accurately, but through exposition and condensation.

You were considered literate if you could take a classic verse and expound upon it at length (exposition) and take an ambiguous idea and distill its essence into a terse verbal composition (condensation)…

the fundamental learned behaviors that constitute literacy, not reading and writing…"

[Update: Adding the final portion to this bookmark]

"This might sound like engineering elitism, but I find that the only large classes of people who appear to actually think in clearly literate ways today are mathematicians and programmers. But they typically only do so in very narrow domains.

To learn to think with language, to become literate in the sense of linguistically sophisticated, you must work hard to unlearn everything built on the foundation of literacy-as-reading-and-writing.

Because modern education is not designed to produce literate people. It is designed to produce programmable people. And this programmability requires less real literacy with every passing year. Today, genuinely literate reading and writing are specialized arts. Increasingly, even narrowly instrumental read-write literacy is becoming unnecessary (computers can do both very well).

These are not stupid people. You only have to listen to a child delightedly reciting supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or indulging in other childish forms of word-play to realize that raw skill with language is a native capability in the human brain. It must be repressed by industrial education since it seeks natural expression.

So these are not stupid people. These are merely ordinary people who have been lobotomized via the consumerization of language, delivered via modern education.

We dimly realize that we have lost something. But appreciation for the sophistication of oral cultures mostly manifests itself as mindless reverence for traditional wisdom. We look back at the works of ancients and deep down, wonder if humans have gotten fundamentally stupider over the centuries.

We haven’t. We’ve just had some crucial meme-processing software removed from our brains.

Towards a Literacy Renaissance

This is one of the few subjects about which I am not a pessimist. I believe that something strange is happening. Genuine literacy is seeing a precarious rebirth.

The best of today’s tweets seem to rise above the level of mere bon mots (“gamification is the high-fructose corn syrup of user engagement”) and achieve some of the cryptic depth of esoteric verse forms of earlier ages.

The recombinant madness that is the fate of a new piece of Internet content, as it travels, has some of the characteristics of the deliberate forms of recombinant recitation practiced by oral culture.

The comments section of any half-decent blog is a meaning factory.

Sites like are sustaining basic literacy skills.

The best of today’s stand-up comics are preserving ancient wordplay skills.

But something is still missing: the idea that literacy is a cultivable skill. That dense, terse thoughts are not just serendipitous finds on the discursive journeys of our brains, but the product of learnable exposition and condensation skills.

I suppose paying attention to these things, and actually attempting to work with archaic forms like maxims and aphorisms in 2012 is something of a quixotic undertaking. When you can store a terbayte of information (about 130,000 books, or about 50% larger than a typical local public library) on a single hard-disk words can seem cheap.

But try reading some La Rochefoucauld, or even late hold outs like Oliver Wendell Holmes and J. B. S. Haldane, and you begin to understand what literacy is really about. The cost of words is not the cost of storing them or distributing, but the cost of producing them. Words are cheap today because we put little effort into their production, not because we can store and transmit as much as we like.

It is as yet too early to declare a literacy renaissance, but one can hope."
production  jbshaldane  oliverwendellholmes  larochefoucauld  words  aphorisms  comprehension  jargon  wisdom  knowledge  banter  citation  correspondence  conversation  self-indulgence  technology  printing  web  content  composition  civilization  memorization  oralculture  creativedestruction  recitation  history  highculture  popculture  culture  internet  education  2012  gutenberg  text  understanding  condensation  exposition  literacy  communication  language  writing  reading  venkateshrao  unschooling  deschooling  moderneducation  schools 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Patt Morrison interview with filmmaker and tech innovator Tiffany Shlain -
One of my favorite stories about Einstein is that he was being interviewed, and at the end the reporter said, "If I have any follow-up questions, can I call you?" And Einstein went over to the bookcase and looked up his phone number [in a phone book] and gave it to the reporter. And the reporter said, "You're the smartest man in the 20th century -- how do you not know your own phone number?" And he said, "Vy fill my mind with such useless information if I know vere I can find it?" Was that why he was able to come up with the theory of relativity -- he wasn't filling his mind with useless information?

So our children come up with new ideas we can't even imagine because they're not trying to hold onto all this information. When I was in school, the person who memorized the most facts was the smartest person in the class. Now it's going to be all about re-contextualizing ideas and recombining ideas."
pattmorrison  children  remixculture  memorization  memory  recombination  rote  rotelearning  unschooling  technology  deschooling  parenting  recontextualization  information  systemsthinking  collaboration  humanity  2011  remixing 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Cramming For College At Beijing's Second High | Fast Company
"An intimate look at a group of elite Beijing high-school students reveals how China's schooling system is one of the resurgent nation's greatest strengths--and biggest weaknesses."

""The gaokao rewards a special type of student: very strong memory; very strong logical and analytical ability; little imagination; little desire to question authority," says Jiang Xueqin, a Yale-educated school administrator in Beijing. "That person does well on the gaokao--as well as on the SAT, by the way.""

"A few prominent Chinese have become icons for those who argue that the gaokao should not be the sole route to success. Writer and businessman Luo Yonghao never took it; ironically, he later made his fortune on a chain of TOEFL and GRE test-prep centers. Perhaps the most famous example is Han Han, a high-school dropout who is the modern paragon of the Chinese renaissance man--a race-car driver, novelist, singer, and the most widely read blogger in the world."
2011  education  china  beijing  learning  testing  sat  standardizedtesting  gaokao  dropouts  imagination  entrepreneurship  authority  conformism  conformity  meritocracy  testprep  memorization  rote  memory  rotelearning 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Twitter / @johnmaeda: "Differentiate between har ...
"Differentiate between hard work and long work. Long work is just time-consuming." -from conv with Seth Godin
johnmaeda  sethgodin  work  working  effort  tcsnmy  unschooling  deschooling  rote  memorization  time  lcproject  learning  meaningmaking  rotelearning 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Well, Duh! -- Ten Obvious Truths That We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring
1. Much of the material students are required to memorize is soon forgotten; 2. Just knowing a lot of facts doesn’t mean you’re smart; 3. Students are more likely to learn what they find interesting; 4. Students are less interested in whatever they’re forced to do and more enthusiastic when they have some say; 5. Just because doing x raises standardized test scores doesn’t mean x should be done; 6. Students are more likely to succeed in a place where they feel known and cared about; 7. We want children to develop in many ways, not just academically; 8. Just because a lesson (or book, or class, or test) is harder doesn't mean it's better; 9. Kids aren’t just short adults; 10. Substance matters more than labels"
education  alfiekohn  testing  discipline  interestdriven  teaching  standardizedtesting  learning  schools  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  memorization  toshare  facts  understanding  meaning  interests  coercion  childhood  parenting  policy  assessment  measurement  cv  progressive  classroommanagement 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Khan Academy and the mythical math cure « Generation YES Blog
"There is no doubt that Khan Academy fills a perceived need that something needs to be fixed about math instruction. But at some point, when you talk about learning math, you have to define your terms. If you are a strict instructionist – you are going to love Khan Academy. If you are a constructivist, you are going to find fault with a solution that is all about instruction. So any discussion of Khan Academy in the classroom has to start with the question, how do YOU believe people learn?

I have more to say about Khan Academy and math education in the US — this post turned into 4 parts!

Part 1 – Khan Academy and the mythical math cure (this post)
Part 2 – Khan Academy – algorithms and autonomy
Part 3 – Don’t we need balance? and other questions
Part 4 – Monday… Someday"
math  learning  khanacademy  education  constructivism  instruction  memorization  algorithms  schools  teaching  sylviamartinez  2011  instructionism  mathematics  tcsnmy 
april 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Pedagogy 101
"Suited (I thought) and tied,
earnest as the day was very long,
I taught them when to be still,
why they needed to listen,
where Columbus was born,
how to answer textbook questions
and what the similarity was
between my decrees and their grades.

Sitting at bolted desks
while flies rambled on tall windows
they taught me when to shut my mouth,
why I needed to hear,
where they were coming from,
how to question textbook answers,
and what the difference is
between schooling and education."
poetry  irasocol  alanshapiro  2011  1999  poems  education  teaching  cv  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  textbooks  learning  schools  schooliness  memorization  understanding 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Secrets of a Mind-Gamer -
"He reasoned that just about anything could be imprinted upon our memories, and kept in good order, simply by constructing a building in the imagination and filling it with imagery of what needed to be recalled. This imagined edifice could then be walked through at any time in the future. Such a building would later come to be called a memory palace."

"What began as an exercise in participatory journalism became an obsession. True, what I hoped for before I started hadn’t come to pass: these techniques didn’t improve my underlying memory (the “hardware” of “Rhetorica ad Herennium”). I still lost my car keys. And I was hardly a fount of poetry. Even once I was able to squirrel away more than 30 digits a minute in memory palaces, I seldom memorized the phone numbers of people I actually wanted to call. It was easier to punch them into my cellphone. The techniques worked; I just didn’t always use them. Why bother when there’s paper, a computer or a cellphone to remember for you?"
memory  psychology  brain  science  joshuafoer  memorization  spatial  evolution  competition  neuroscience  training  simonidesofceos  simonides  rhetoricaadherennium 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Sal Kahn Out To Disrupt Education | O'DonnellWeb
[Kahn:] we should “decouple credentialing from learning.” Instead of handing out degrees, standardized assessments would be measure of employee competence.

While I’m 110% behind idea of separating education & credentialing, I’m not sure standardized assessments are the answer. Human beings are not standardized…we should stop pretending a test score or diploma has any real predictive ability regarding human behavior. A teacher that is passionate is far more valuable than [one] that aced test & got diploma. But you can’t measure passion, you can only observe it.

[Kahn:] lectures would become homework & teacher tutoring would occur during class time.

Is there any larger waste of time in the education establishment than making 20-200 students assemble in room to listen to instructor ramble on from memorized notes? If you can’t interact w/ instructor there is no reason to bother being in the same room…"
chriso'donnell  teaching  learning  education  standards  standardization  standardizedtesting  passion  schools  memorization  lectures  unschooling  deschooling  homeschool  diplomas  credentials  assessment  truelearning  lcproject  tcsnmy  competency  khanacademy  salkhan  salmankhan 
february 2011 by robertogreco
Beyond Teaching to the Test | IREX
"Yet despite its overwhelming success with exams, China’s education system still lags in a number of areas, not the least of which is its ability to teach analytical thinking. Focusing almost solely on preparation for benchmarking tests and entrance exams, the Chinese classrooms I visited in my previous work in China offered few interactive learning and problem-solving opportunities, and student-led extra-curricular activities remain relatively rare. Students I encountered in both rural and urban areas of China were often extremely bright, yet many struggled to verbalize their own opinions or respond to questions that probe beyond the factual level."
education  china  standardizedtesting  learning  memorization  rote  problemsolving  collaboration  rotelearning 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Answer Sheet - Why are we failing in history, science education?
"decades ago…we gave up teaching history as idea-centered discipline played out by succession of characters whose actions led to results that can be analyzed. That kind of story-based history is engaging. We replaced it w/ litanies of facts.

…in 20th century, w/ advent of world-changing physics of relativity & quantum theory, we gave science to scientists…accepted what CP Snow called “two cultures;” disconnecting science & arts…no reason to separate them…shouldn’t have happened. Understanding ideas behind today’s incredibly exciting sciences is something all of us can do. But to make science a true liberal arts subject means telling its stories & science history is on curriculum in only 1 state…

…many of our schools have marginalized subjects that make you think, subjects that provide intellectual stretching. History & science—taught as idea-based subjects—give you something to think about. Turning them into rote memorization disciplines gives you a headache."
history  science  education  teaching  learning  schools  policy  memorization  thinking  criticalthinking  ideas  tcsnmy  stories  storytelling  historyofscience  fourthculture  art  arts  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Kids aged 3-6 pretty much the same for last 85 years « Computing Education Blog
[See also: ]

"Isn’t it great that somebody is doing studies like these? The Gesell Institute for Human Development has assessed 3-6 year olds since 1925, and finds that kids in 2010 behave pretty the same — despite the intensity of new kindergarten curriculum. The article really argues that all the training in new kindergartens, on numbers and letters, leads to more memorization but no more learning. The bottomline is that play-based curriculum seems to still work the best for these ages."
children  play  learning  kindergarten  schools  schooling  curriculum  wastedenergy  reggioemilia  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  education  memorization  emergentcurriculum  toshare 
october 2010 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Reading is NOT the goal
""Reading is defined as getting information from a recorded source into your head, Writing is defined as getting information from your head into a form which others can access." And to which I might have added, "Arithmetic is defined as having a common system for sharing quantifiable data.""

"reason US standardized test results collapse after 4th grade...tests simply ask kids to regurgitate processes we've been banging into them for first 4 years of school. They do that well enough. But the processes really don't connect to most on functional level, so when they take later content-driven evaluation tests, they fail, because they are not accessing content...only know how to "read" to "read." I see this all the time, quick, "fluent" readers who have no idea what they've just read, or why. Kids who form letters perfectly but who can't express themselves. Kids w/ memorized math facts but no ability to leap into algebra or beyond...

So please, when your kids have trouble w/ "skills" of school, offer them way around, path to "why." Give them digital reading system & let them access what's of interest...Turn on speech recognition & let them communicate w/ world. Give them a simple way to create math symbols & perform calculations, & allow them to see what math can mean."
irasocol  learning  education  alternative  math  mathematics  memorization  understanding  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  text  ebooks  audiobooks  literacy  reading  writing 
august 2010 by robertogreco
America Via Erica: Coxsackie-Athens Valedictorian Speech 2010 [Wow. Wish I was this wise and aware at that age. Go read the whole thing.]
"A worker is someone who is trapped within repetition—a slave of the system set up before him. But now, I have successfully shown that I was the best slave. I did what I was told to the extreme. While others sat in class & doodled to later become great artists, I sat in class to take notes and become a great test-taker. While others would come to class without their homework done because they were reading about an interest of theirs, I never missed an assignment. While others were creating music and writing lyrics, I decided to do extra credit, even though I never needed it. So, I wonder, why did I even want this position? Sure, I earned it, but what will come of it? When I leave educational institutionalism, will I be successful or forever lost? I have no clue about what I want to do with my life; I have no interests because I saw every subject of study as work, and I excelled at every subject just for the purpose of excelling, not learning. And quite frankly, now I'm scared."

[Update 22 Jan 2014: now made into a comic: ]
valedictorians  ericagoldson  johntaylorgatto  unschooling  deschooling  criticalthinking  passion  tcsnmy  toshare  topost  learning  education  policy  schools  schooliness  schooling  courage  authoritarianism  slavery  busywork  pleasing  democracy  publiceducation  industrial  goals  process  graduation  emptiness  sameness  mediocrity  cv  storyofmylife  innovation  rote  memorization  standardizedtesting  testing  grades  grading  commencementspeeches  rotelearning 
july 2010 by robertogreco - School grades are hopelessly broken
"Grades don’t reflect your aptitude, intelligence, or understanding of subject matter. You don’t need to actually learn much useful material to get good grades. (& many of those who learn exceptionally well don’t get good grades.)...
us  grades  grading  highered  learning  education  gpa  tcsnmy  via:lukeneff  schools  toshare  topost  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  authenticity  writing  classideas  aptitude  intelligence  understanding  memorization  rote  teaching  schooling  schooliness  marcoarment  rotelearning 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Some Thoughts of a Scientist on Inquiry, by Bruce Alberts [.pdf]
"certainly easy to recognize another, much more familiar type of science teaching, in which teacher provides student with large set of science facts along with many special science words that are needed to describe them. In worst case, teacher of this type of science is assuming that education consists of filling a student’s head w/ huge set of word associations...This would seem to make preparation for life nearly indistin-"

[via: ]
teaching  science  inquiry  inquiry-basedlearning  learning  education  schools  brucealberts  richardfeynman  understanding  projectbasedlearning  memorization  rote  tcsnmy  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  experience  filetype:pdf  media:document  pbl  rotelearning 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Nonformality | The Learning Revolution
"We will learn in the future by

* following rhythms of inquiry and learning rather than rhythms of compartmentalised structures and times,
* moving away from memorising and teaching towards exploring and learning by doing,
* turning away from sitting and listening passively to constructing and collaborating actively,
* facilitating learning from failure instead of punishing every little mistake,
* accepting uncertainty as the only certainty there is within the complexity of learning,
* relating learning and living in ways that are fruitful and enriching both ways,
* not teaching what to learn and think, but by teaching how to learn and think,
* inventing and facilitating new and integrated learning formats, combining subjects and approaches,
* turning away from instruction and control towards facilitation and support,
* moving away from spaces controlled by educators towards spaces controlled by learners,
* providing encouragement and support instead of criticism and barriers.

Admittedly, this list is generic—quite possibly, too generic—but it’s a start. Wir fangen schon mal an."

[via: ]
education  future  tcsnmy  lcproject  learning  teaching  schools  schooling  unschooling  deschooling  instruction  facilitators  facilitating  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  crosspollination  collaboration  complexity  uncertainty  adaptability  doing  making  exploration  memorization  control  support  hierarchy 
june 2010 by robertogreco
Apprenticeship 2.0 Could Fuel 21st Century Learning | DMLcentral
"A number of educational theorists are advocating increased attention on teaching students skills, rather than merely focusing on their mastery of abstract content. Influential reports like Henry Jenkins, et al.'s "Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century" & the New Media Consortium's Horizon Project have outlined the skills that students need to be active participants in new media culture. As educators working with digital media, we need to begin to seriously think of our work as a form of apprenticeship, where we ask ourselves: what sorts of skills are we modeling for our students? And how are those skills preparing them for the future?

...With an educational model based on apprenticeship, educators could deemphasize the role of rote memorization and testing that are now used to rank and sort students, and rather focus on mastering the skills that students need to be engaged citizens in the digital age."
digitalhumanities  training  skills  teaching  henryjenkins  apprenticeships  memorization  rotelearning  schools  technology  tcsnmy  rote 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Success Factory: Inside America’s Best High School - Education ( [via:]
"fact that Jefferson is great at everything is source of pride but also concern...fear that school is becoming success factory—place where overachievers are too busy racking up trophies & credentials to test themselves in lab or classroom...How much success is too much? that to get well on a standardized more important...good test takers...obsessed with grades & work angles...“professional anything...get A’s.”...AP curriculum is standardized & limited..."just regurgitating information."...faculty would gladly ban APs...fighting culture of achievement that has enveloped learning...comes from exploration & experimentation. Rewards not always tangible & failure often best teacher...lots of kids today approach education game. At each to master tricks & collect points...ultimate goal may be getting into good approach school this way because they’re programmed to chase success"
education  schools  success  tcsnmy  standardizedtesting  memorization  testing  assessment  highschool  apexams  learning  burnout  intrinsicmotivation  motivation  teens  youth  schooling 
november 2009 by robertogreco
'The Objective of Education Is Learning, Not Teaching' - Knowledge@Wharton
"In most schools, memorization is mistaken for learning. Most of what is remembered is remembered only for a short time, but then is quickly forgotten. (How many remember how to take a square root or ever have a need to?) Furthermore, even young children are aware of the fact that most of what is expected of them in school can better be done by computers, recording machines, cameras, and so on. They are treated as poor surrogates for such machines and instruments. Why should children -- or adults, for that matter -- be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can? Why doesn't education focus on what humans can do better than the machines and instruments they create?"
education  learning  knowledge  philosophy  teaching  schools  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  schooling  gamechanging  curriculum  memorization 
november 2008 by robertogreco
I still don’t have the multiplication tables memorized
"Let us face it: the purpose of school should not be to teach specifics. And you should never judge kids by what you expect them to achieve. Let them surprise you!"
education  knowledge  math  reform  memorization  problemsolving  unschooling  homeschool  learning  children  memory 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Get Smarter: 12 Hacks That Will Amp Up Your Brainpower
"1. Distract Yourself 2. Caffeinate With Care 3. Choose Impressive Information 4. Think Positive 5. Do the Right Drugs 6. Juice Your IQ Score 7. Know Your Brain 8. Don't Panic 9. Embrace Chaos 10. Get Visual 11. Exercise Wisely 12. Slow Down"
brain  productivity  memory  neuroscience  comprehension  memorization  education  efficiency  learning  lifehacks  knowledge  mind  tips  gtd  science  psychology  sleep  drugs  health  medicine  howto 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Super Memory
"This website is devoted to improving memory, self-growth, creativity, time-management, and speed-learning software SuperMemo"
memory  learning  education  software  lifehacks  productivity  mnemonics  neuroscience  brain  forgetting  supermemo  vocabulary  memorization  notetaking  languages  flashcards 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm
"SuperMemo is the result of his research. It predicts the future state of a person's memory and schedules information reviews at the optimal time. The effect is striking. Users can seal huge quantities of vocabulary into their brains."
biology  brain  memory  learning  psychology  education  supermemo  software  howto  neuroscience  memorization  intelligence  flashcards  computing  cognitive  cognition  recall  languages  hacks 
april 2008 by robertogreco
Metacognition for Kids - Gary Marcus (World Question Center 2007)
"use discoveries of cognitive science to improve the quality of education...radically rethink how schools work...start with a course in it The Human Mind: A User's Guide...for 7th-graders."
children  education  learning  science  cognitive  schools  schooldesign  future  curriculum  memory  memorization  lcproject  statistics  understanding  metacognition 
january 2007 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:

to read