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View Diary: Education: Why data-driven instruction does not work (98 comments)

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  •  The Latest Fad (8+ / 0-)

    The point of all these fads is to convince the public there's something wrong with the public school system, specifically that teachers are bad and so we need to move everyone to private schools where the kids can be properly propagandized, excuse me, taught what some people want them to know. Most of that is hooey.

    Take those questions, for example:

    What famous document was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776? What was the year of the Battle of New Orleans?
    Those just simply aren't valid things to be teaching children at this point. There's no nutritive value in them knowing what document came out of that Congress or what year the Americans defeated the British troops in New Orleans.

    Of course, there's value in teaching them about the document and the meaning and ramifications of the battle. (The British solders had to run through the briars and the bushes where the rabbits couldn't go.)

    But the date? What's the point of remembering the date? You can get that from your friendly Internet search engine or just look it up on Wikipedia at any moment.

    Maybe teachers need their own Declaration of Independence. That would show some learning.

    •  Here is a great example to illustrate your point. (12+ / 0-)

      My 8th grade social studies class took the STAAR test Thursday (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.) As a proctor, I'm not supposed to closely look at the tests, just make sure they are working on the correct section, basically, but I couldn't help noticing one question about the Great Compromise.
      We had just reviewed this. My kids could tell you that  it was about how to elect the legislative branch at the Constitutional Convention, that  the populous states wanted it to be based on population, that the smalll states wanted each state to have equal representation and why they held those opinions. Could tell you the compromise resulted in a bicameral legislature where the House does it the big state way and the Senate does it the small state way.
      Every kid I walked by was getting it wrong because the question had three puzzle pieces, one labeled New Jersey Plan, one labeled Virginia Plan and a blank piece in the middle and asked how to best complete the diagram. Well, I did not go over the names of the two plans, since that is exactly the type of rote memorization of facts the test is supposed to have moved away from in favor of testing critical thinking skills.

      •  Thanks for the Illustration (6+ / 0-)

        I'm sure this is a common occurrence.

        Teaching is not easy. But, like many areas we think people are too expensive.

        In business, there's a constant push to cut costs by eliminating "middle managers". So, we see drug testing and video surveillance taking their place. Then we wonder why the quality of life sucks.

        It strikes me that this testing is the "video surveillance" of education. It gives you a view, but it lacks a few dimensions. It might have some value if used in a comprehensive educational strategy, but if you take it too literally, you get something way off in the weeds.

        Maybe we should invent a new methodology called "teacher-based education" where we ask the question, "What do we need to do to best support the teacher? How can we provide them with the resources and techniques that would best help them to provide quality education to their students?" We could start by asking them what they need.

        This might not be the exact right question, but I think it's far closer to the right one than we've been seeing so far.

        •  Testing is good at catching someone doing some (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Square Knot, ranton, Liberal Thinking

          thing WRONG, but it assumes that many people are doing something wrong, like video surveillance.  It does nothing to show people HOW to do something right. Like video surveillance, it only transmits a sense of dread about doing ANYTHING because it might be wrong, and the system is really good at catching people doing something wrong.

          Do we really want to spend the budgets of the governments of the US trying to catch people doing something wrong? Is that the whole point of a humane society? It sounds like hell to me.

          It fulfills Orwell's sense of dread about the future, and in our case, the present.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:30:23 PM PDT

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        •  I get the impression (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ranton, Liberal Thinking

          that this(let's do what we need to do to support the teacher) is what Finland has done and one reason they are successful.

      •  year after year (0+ / 0-)

        the 10th grade MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) science test had this same question in the constructed response section: Name two types of electromagnetic energy. (Yes, I peeked)

        Year after year, students answered "kinetic and potential" and got it counted wrong even though they could name the regions of the electromagnetic spectrum in their sleep. That's what the test writer was looking for: radio waves and microwaves, or infrared and visible, etc.

        Kinetic and potential is equally valid and really a better answer, IMO.

        This is one of the biggest problems with testing.  The New York Regents, the MCAS may be good tests, but in too many states the test questions are written by morans.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:37:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Dates Are Important For Context (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, Liberal Thinking

      If you don't know, for example, whether the Civil Rights Act was in 1964 or 1944 - and broadly what else was going on in those two years - then you can't possibly have enough context to "get" the meaning and importance of the Civil Rights Act.    

      And looking up the date later if you think you need it is not the same as having enough context in your head NOW to evaluate what other people are saying about the topic under discussion.

      •  As a history teacher, I want my students to have a (6+ / 0-)

        sense of time/chronology instead of wasting time memorizing specific dates  It is more important that students learn causes, effects, significances, and impacts.

        Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

        by ranton on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:33:35 PM PDT

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      •  The problem is that from the standpoint of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Thinking

        a multiple choice test, the student who puts the CRA in 1965 is just as wrong as the one who puts it in 1944. Knowing that the CRA was passed "in the mid-1960s" is enough context to understand its meaning and importance (obviously if the student were writing a paper about the CRA, they should be expected to get the year right, but that's a matter of doing thorough research).

        Writing in all lower-case letters should be a capital offense

        by ebohlman on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:13:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Point Is the Context (0+ / 0-)

        My objection is that they aren't testing what the person needs to know. Yes, it's important to know that the Civil Rights Act came in the 1960s and that it was about a hundred years after the American Civil War. That's because it gives a sense of how long a whole group of people had to wait for their rights to be (more or less) fully recognized. Just as an example. (Along with other things, some of which you pointed out.) But the exact date as 1964 or 1965 doesn't mean much.

        So, if you were going to be testing then you should be testing for that kind of knowledge. Perhaps you'd have to have orals or something. Maybe a written exposition. A multiple choice test, especially one that focuses on dates or names, is at best a crude substitute for testing the important information and understanding that should come out of education.

        Or, maybe you should have the teacher evaluate the student based on their participation in class, assignments turned in, and test results. Not only would that be more effective at evaluating the student, but it would also provide a feedback loop with the teacher, probably producing better results as the teacher became more experienced.

        Oh, but experienced teachers...um, that would cost more. You might have to give them more money and, worse than that, more respect. They might have opinions. Wow, that would undermine the whole neolithic argument that public schools are bad and teachers worse.

        So, we get robotesting.

        I agree that having the date or at least a sense of the date is valuable. But I think the test should cut to the chase and find out about what the date represents. Did the student pick that up?

    •  1814? No, 1815 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      When I saw that question about the Battle of New Orleans, I immediately thought of the Johnny Horton song ("In 1814 we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp.") Double checked the lyrics. Yep, 1814. But Wikipedia says January 8, 1815.

      But then I thought, "Which Battle of New Orleans?" I'll bet there were headlines calling it the battle for New Orleans in 2005. Or during the Great Flood of 1927 (or was it 1928?).

      "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

      by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:06:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Horton Has a Hoot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dbug

        And thus we see the value of teaching students how to use the Internet rather than wasting their time learning all those dates! If only Johnny Horton had had access to Google, I'm sure his lyrics would have said 1815!

        But he probably wrote that from memory.

      •  Oh, Just One Question (0+ / 0-)

        This will require research, of course, but the song says, "In 1814 we took a little trip...". When did Jackson form up his company? It's possible he did that in 1814, even though the battle didn't take place until later. The "we" in the song could refer to when "he" took the trip, not when the battle took place.

        Well, that would be overanalyzing the situation, wouldn't it?

        •  Actually, I think you're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Thinking

          Colonel Jackson probably formed the company in 1814. The battle was January 8, 1815. So they didn't just appear in 1815. There had to be a history going back to the previous year.

          I think the way to teach a bunch of teens or tweens the date is to play the song. Maybe get them to sing along. You'd only have to do it once. Tell them they got organized in 1814 and the battle was 1815. Even the kids who don't care about history will remember the bacon and beans part, along with 1814 and 1815.

          "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

          by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 11:38:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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