About 5 things

I picked up this on twitter, and answered it because zandtao was on his “blogs I follow” – the only one???

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1) Motivation

Education does not occur without motivation but that does not mean Carl is wrong. Sadly in our education system because achievement is rewarded students become addicted to achievement reward, and therefore become motivated by them. None of this has anything to do with genuine education but a lot to do with the test-passing curriculum in schools.

Genuine motivation produces its own reward as can be seen from those who try to learn for themselves outside the education system. How useful that is to know for test-passing I am not sure.

2) Learning and Engagement
“Here’s 1 do 10” is a maths lesson for exams, and it is concerned with classroom management as much as learning. Problem-solving which might be an objective cannot truly be taught in a class, it is something hidden the maths teacher hopes gets passed on. On an individual basis you might be able to do it.

But this engagement, what percentage is it? And what percentage engagement is offered? A demanding student attending school cannot learn at their pace because it is not individual. Such a rapacious student soon gets dulled down because of classroom practicalities. Such a student never has 100% motivation as the institution can never offer it. They become partially engaged doing 10, and maybe additional problem-solving might engage them. But that has drawbacks because reduced learning motivation leads to half-assed efforts at problem-solving, a creative learning gift that requires good focus.
In my view a teacher has a duty to engage as many students as possible not necessarily to the fullness of their abilities. What pipedream of learning and engagement is the author after?

3) Marking and Feedback
Marking has always been a waste of time, and I used to design work that could be self-marked. Tests and verbal answers etc. I was horrified to read that marking-time has increased. How pointless! It is standard in education to blame the teacher and demand an increase in teacher workload but more marking – crazy!

I used to try and insist on corrections because at least the student is forced to consider evaluating the marking. Because of achievement orientation, test-passing etc., student evaluation is what score did I get and did the teacher make a mistake. Yet again testing is the benchmark and not education.

4) Marking-Time
For teacher time and student time to be even considered equivalent is ludicrous considering how many books have to be marked. In a class a teacher does not have time to spend 5 minutes on a book yet students on a 40 minute homework needs to consider far more than 5 minutes to make the homework correct. However being 100% correct the second or third-time around is not a student objective as they are concerned with the achievement of their test scores.

5) Skills
a) In maths different year groups do different levels of equations, this is staggered. At each year there are degrees of hardness to the skill, typically 2x+3 =7 and harder 2x+3 = 8. Then there is problem-solving in which the equation is derived from the physical situation (word problems). The skill has levels built in, and the teacher can usually know which students are likely to achieve which levels.

b) Generalised Skills

I have never taught critical thinking as a skill but I have taught problem-solving. If a student has the ability to solve a problem in one branch of maths in schools then it is likely that skill could transcend to other branches. The methodology of various problem-solving techniques applies across different branches, and the ability to focus and create the starting point would not be branch-dependent. At higher levels of maths this would not apply, an algebra expert might well not be able to solve geometry problems – at university and higher.

As for critical thinking I cannot discuss school-teaching. But having the ability to enquire is not skill-dependent. There are people who enquire as to truth in all spheres of life, they criticise and evaluate “fake news”, propaganda, and conspiracy theories in whatever sphere. Is this enquiry not critical thinking? Through enquiry insight can develop especially in conjunction with meditation. Is insight skill dependent? Having said this I don’t know what passes for critical thinking in schools. I think back to my own critical thinking about education, and feel it was minimal yet often I was considered rebellious. Now I can’t see beyond education for wage-slavery as being the dominant methodology.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Zandtao.

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