A Reading Week Smorgasbord

A smorgasbord from Photo Credit: Average Jane via Compfight cc Do you want to eat everything here? Of course you do. Should you? Probably not.

A delicious smorgasbord from Average Jane via Compfight cc.
Do you want to eat everything here? Of course you do. Should you eat everything here? Probably not. I guess.

It was reading week, so I read a lot. Not textbooks, or things for school. Just musings from around the internet. I’ve compiled them all here. However. It’s too much to eat all at once. Don’t try. Treat it like the smorgasbord above – pick and choose what looks tasty and move on. No regrets.

To help you out, I’ve organized a bit:

Appetizer: Education Articles

Main Course: Math Education Articles

Dessert: Miscellaneous Articles (spoiler alert: we’ve got a mathematical proof of how outstanding you are, an exceptionally voiced post on the realities of living in our patriarchy as a woman, and a l’il Ted Talk explaining how too many choices (like this smorgasbord) is detrimental to your life. I thought we’d end on a depressing, meta-cognitive note 😀  )

Education Articles


Cognitive Load Theory is Wrong??

I’ll pick up where my last article summation blog left off, with CLT. Another blog from Bryan Penfound, who frequents the topic. He’s offering a summary of a new article suggesting a re-conceptualization of CLT. What’s beautiful about CLT is how unattached it is from pedagogy. Most pedagogical arguments are between people so fixed in their viewpoints, they won’t even consider alternatives. Some of these people use CLT to defend their perspectives. However, the actual researchers in CLT are not so fixed, and as empirical evidence changes, they change their theory to adapt. It’s wonderful seeing science instead of ignorance at work. This blog shows how CLT can still be accepted, but a strict, traditional instruction style is not essential at all times.

Learning is Liminal

This article does a lovely job exploring why education (for learners) is a scary, unknown world, and why students seem to forget things between classes. It also gives a strong image of an inexorable tide of knowledge rising, that can be very comforting for a teacher. I do want to problematize that image a little bit. If it’s accurate, the students have very little control – they’re going to be overtaken by the waves, by the tide. So we’d best be certain we’re teaching the right things – because the ocean is dangerous. We can drown our students by teaching the wrong things.

Howard Gardner: ‘Multiple intelligences’ are not ‘learning styles’

There has been a lot of anger flying around Twitter this week, decrying the villainy of Learning Styles. Allow me to summarize (instead of linking, because I believe our lives are better off without reading vitriolic attacks): Learning styles don’t exist, they’ve been disproven by science, please stop teaching them in school/teacher education programs. It’s true, Learning Styles don’t exist. However, a lot of people are taking that to mean: teach everyone without differentiation, and the best way to teach a topic is inherent to the nature of the knowledge. I was in a discussion with Cameron Mohan about this when Katia Hildebrandt directed us to this article. It’s written by the developer of Multiple Intelligences Theory, and distinguished MI from Learning Styles. He offers a nuanced, calm discussion based on empirical evidence, rather than just attacking Learning Styles as evil.

Term papers? These science students write Wikipedia pages instead.

The title says it all. Undergrad students are writing Wikipedia articles under the supervision of their prof, rather than term papers. ECMP 355/455 talk a lot about building an audience for student work. What could be a more authentic use of research than posting on Wikipedia (also, – building Digital Citizenship anyone?) I want to do this with high school students. I think it would be spectacular. There are several ways to take it. I think a meaningful route would be conducting local research. Pairing with local historical societies and the like to create and edit pages for smaller, localized content.

Off-Task Communication is Spot-on for Collaborative Learning

Education has often put a lot of focus on “on-task activity.” It’s the measure of classroom management and productivity. It’s how you tell a good teacher from a poor teacher. In the States, it can help determine a teacher’s salary. And, just as everyone who has ever worked in a group knows, the conversations you have off-task are essential to your collaboration. It builds trust, respect, and a desire to collaborate. It helps children develop socially. This article summarizes these thoughts because a recent study has given evidence to support what we all already knew – you work better, especially long term, if your team has strong dynamics, and those are built through off-task communication.

Math Education Articles


London maths teacher on shortlist for million dollar teaching prize

Like flipped classrooms? Love Khan Academy? Want to earn 630k quid? Colin Hegarty has got you beat. London math teacher has made 1000+ math instructional videos and put them online. I haven’t investigated too deeply, but I believe they’re open to the public, so you can use them in your classroom if you choose. For North Americans, pro-tip: math=maths.

Ed Begle’s First And Second Laws Of Mathematics Education

These are so good, I’ve gotta repost them:

  1. The validity of an idea about mathematics education and the plausibility of that idea are uncorrelated.
  2. Mathematics education is much more complicated than you expected even though you expected it to be more complicated than you expected.

I’ll just leave them there. Genius.

Visual Patterns – Who Needs Them?

This post by Michael Pershan is a bit too dismissive of visual patterns imho. I’m all for providing multiple points of access into a math problem – and a visual, relational pattern is one point of access from which a lot of students can enter the math. So, are recognizing visual patterns a goal? Yes! Are they the end goal? No. But that doesn’t devalue them. Every actor on a stage matters, even small roles with few lines; visual patterns are part of pattern recognition in general, and they have intrinsic value.

Miscellaneous Articles


Theorem: You Are Exceptional

Keith Devlin has opinions – he calls them his Angles, because, you know, he’s a mathematician. In this post, he makes an argument about human exceptionality based on the ratio of perimeter hyper-volume to total hyper-volume in a 200 dimensional hyper-cube. Sounds thrilling right? It is to me, and if it doesn’t sound so to you, try it out anyway. He explains his logic very clearly, even to a mathematically lay person. As for its accuracy? I think it’s neat. I’m not sure it’s mathematically sound (I question the assumption of independence, and thus orthogonality, of the 200 human performance characteristics.)

To Men I Love, About Men Who Scare Me

Read it. If you’re a woman, it won’t be a surprise, but you’ll appreciate the clarity of expression. If you’re a man, don’t put up your defences. Don’t try to make excuses. Read it, and try to accept it. Try to get inside it, and let it get inside you. Try to understand the message that’s here. It’s very important.

The Paradox of Choice

A TedTalk to finish up this smorgasbord. He suggests that Choice and happiness follow a parabolic structure, like this:

Doesn't this graphical representational help it make more sense? I think so. Doesn't mean it's my Learning Style though.

Doesn’t this graphical representational help it make more sense? I think so. Doesn’t mean it’s my Learning Style though.

I can connect with this. I’m happier when I leave my phone at home, and go do things without it. I have fewer choices, and I enjoy the ones I make more. I’m going to see if I can adjust my lifestyle in some small but meaningfully ways according to this principle.


One thought on “A Reading Week Smorgasbord

  1. It’s almost midnight and I am tired, so I only scanned the multiple intelligences article. Hope to read again later. Wanted to say, use of this idea is in full force at NMES. The only thing I can see it is accomplishing is the girls are forming self identity ideas of what they are and are not good at, based on questionnaire they completed in kindergarten. I no likey


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