My Week in Review – 17 Jan 2016

Here are some of the articles that caught my eye over the last week:

Zombie Ideas Again: The Learning Pyramid

This one came from Katia but had been on my mind since an Ed Psych Class on Tuesday. This classic image was included in our first week of handouts

learning pyramid

I looked at it, and said, “oh yeah, this thing. I’ve seen it before.” and quickly closed the link. About 20 seconds later, I asked myself, “I wonder if that pyramid has any scientific backing?” so I reopened the link and saw the source at the bottom, National Training Laboratories. Certainly sounded official, so I let the idea slip from my mind.

Enter this article. It solidified my opinion that there’s probably not much peer-reviewed backing for the learning pyramid. On the other hand, the article only cited two blogs and a short primer….. which referenced one of the two blogs. When I see a neat little cycle forming among references, my distrust metre cranks up a few notches.

My decision: Stop referencing the learning pyramid. However, I’m also not going to go around lambasting it. I’ll excise it from my pedagogical considerations.

The collapse of parenting: Why it’s time for parents to grow up

My sister tweeted out this link. It suggests, in rather strong terms, that parents today are spineless neophytes who’ve abandoned all control over their children and the result is kids being “overweight, overmedicated, anxious and disrespectful of themselves and those around them.” I have two, differing opinions on this:

From military experience, I’ve seen new leaders who don’t know how to give an order. It causes confusion and ineffective task completion, as well as frustration for both the leader and their subordinates.

On the other hand, this articles refers to parents “at risk of losing primacy over their children,” and “uncomfortable. . .in their position as the ‘alpha’ or ‘pack leader’ or ‘decider’ of the family.” There’s a lot of pack animal language. I’m no expert on child development – it would be an overstatement to call me an amateur. But until I read some very firm, scientific literature in support of the idea, I’m not convinced that A) humans are strictly pack animals or B) that the only way to effectively raise a kid is with an iron first, Alpha, pack-leader mentality.

Study: Feedback can hinder kids’ math outcomes

This one came to me over twitter from Michael Pershan (follow him if you don’t and you care about math ed). The title is misleading – what it really means is “feedback in the middle of the task.” It didn’t really assess in any sort of longitudinal study about the long term effects on not giving feedback – it was looking at giving feedback for each question as students worked through repetitious math problems.

This definitely raised questions for me about tech incorporation in a math classroom though. Almost always, new apps are heralded as “able to give instantaneous feedback to students.” This study  suggests that may not be a good thing for students. Deep thinking, learning, conceptual understanding – these things seem more important to me than feedback the moment a student makes a mistake. I believe error recognition and self-correction to be an essential part of doing good mathematics, and you can’t develop those skills if you’re not given time to think about if you made an error.

The perils of “Growth Mindset” education: Why we’re trying to fix our kids when we should be fixing the system

This article (from Katia again) hurt. It cut me in the way only coming face to face with your own assumptions can. I’ve liked growth mindset – I’ve practically preached it to students before. But I had never equated it with “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” or generally conservative dogma. This article caused a lot of introspection.

However, it does not conclude that growth mindset is a bad thing. It simply isn’t enough, nor is it an excuse to teach poorly. I’m going to be doing a lot of thinking for the next few months on this.


One thought on “My Week in Review – 17 Jan 2016

  1. Pingback: Two Weeks of Thinking – 1 Feb 16 | Zachary Sellers' Blog

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