Thursday, January 18, 2007

Good Teaching Update

An anonymous commenter made me realize that my eariler post on good teaching made it seem as if I thought that the things on the list were "bad".

I was trying to make the point that teaching the material should be the #1 goal of any teacher. Anything else is extraneous.

p.s. we have a snow day today... I love sleeping in.

The Conspiracy Theory

Opinion Journal - Aztecs vs. Greeks: Those with superior intelligence need to learn to be wise, by Charles Murray

Is it just me, or has Charles Murray gone off the deep end?

He starts off innocently enough by stating the obvious.

Combine these groups, and the top 10% of the intelligence distribution has a huge influence on whether our economy is vital or stagnant, our culture healthy or sick, our institutions secure or endangered. Of the simple truths about intelligence and its relationship to education, this is the most important and least acknowledged: Our future depends crucially on how we educate the next generation of people gifted with unusually high intelligence.

It might be unpopular, but its probably true. Not only does our system suck at educating the lowest performers, they are under educate our average and top performers as well.

But he should of stopped here, instead he rambles on a bit about how being gifted is a "gift", like high IQ people are some sort of superheros, the saviors of the world. They must acknowledge their awesomeness and use it to guide the lesser mortals.

What really took the cake though is when he started talking about some sort of high IQ cabal that runs our government.
In short, I am calling for a revival of the classical definition of a liberal education, serving its classic purpose: to prepare an elite to do its duty. If that sounds too much like Plato's Guardians, consider this distinction. As William F. Buckley rightly instructs us, it is better to be governed by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University. But we have that option only in the choice of our elected officials. In all other respects, the government, economy and culture are run by a cognitive elite that we do not choose. That is the reality, and we are powerless to change it. All we can do is try to educate the elite to be conscious of, and prepared to meet, its obligations. For years, we have not even thought about the nature of that task. It is time we did. (emphasis mine)

It reminded me of some Orwellian novel. If the average would just accept the leadership of the chosen ones, all would be well in the world.

(cross posted at Kitchen Table Math)

Commentary: Good Teaching

Commentary: Good Teaching

Michael F. Shaughnessy over at EdNews finds an old article on "good teaching" from the December 1991 issue of Phi Delta Kappan

1) Whenever students are involved with issues they regard as vital concerns, good teaching is going on.
2) Whenever students are involved with explanations of human differences, good teaching is going on.
3) Whenever students are being helped to see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles, and are not merely engaged in the pursuit of isolated facts, good teaching is going on.
4) Whenever students are involved in planning what they will be doing, it is likely that good teaching is going on.
5) Whenever students are involved with applying ideals such as fairness, equity or justice to their world, it is likely that good teaching is going on.
6) Whenever students are actively involved, it is likely that good teaching is going on. 7) Whenever students are directly involved in real-life experience, it is likely that good teaching is going on.
8) Whenever students are actively involved in heterogeneous groups it is likely that good teaching is going on.
9) Whenever students are asked to think about an idea in a way that questions common sense or a widely accepted assumption that relates new ideas to ones learned previously, or that applies an idea to the problems of living, then there is a chance that good teaching is going on.
10) Whenever students are involved in re-doing, polishing or perfecting their work, it is likely that good teaching is going on.
11) Whenever teachers involve students with the technology of information access, good teaching is going on.
12) Whenever students are involved in reflecting on their own lives and how they have come to believe and feel as they do good teaching is going on.

Wow... so wise. Once again my limited intelligence is revealed. See, I would of thought the list would go something like this.

1. Whenever students master the required material and demonstrate it on appropriate assessments, good teaching is going on.
2. See #1

I have so much to learn.