Thursday, January 01, 2009

Teaching Pt 7

The most important part of this new model of education is field testing. Even if people dismiss all the other ideas, the one idea that cannot be dismissed is does it work with actual students, in actual schools, with actual teachers, under actual conditions. No matter how well argued or well conceived a theory may be, if it doesn't work under actual conditions, then it really doesn't improve education.

The main problem is that philosophies, theories, conjectures, principles, guesses, ideas, approaches, strategies, tactics, and methods can all be argued ad infinitum. Almost any approach to education can be made to make sense in an ideal world, but in the actual world some approaches work better than others. The reason why science has progressed and given applicable results in the last 500 years is because the ultimate arbiter of theory is experiment, more importantly experiments that falsify theories.

One problem is that theories are often tested with ideal students, in ideal schools, with ideal teachers, under ideal conditions. Though this may be a good preliminary method to develop and test the theory, it is not rigorous enough to determine if it works at the level of the local school. Certainly not rigorous enough to determine if it works at the level of a challenging school. Hence before an approach to education is standardized it has to be rigorously tested at different types of schools.

This is not to say that theories are unimportant, for in order for science to progress new theories must be developed, but the theory in and of itself is not enough. Another reason why the scientific method has worked so well is because no one has to take the word of scientific authority on its face, anyone with enough equipment can test the theory on their own and determine if the theory works for themselves. Teachers don't have to believe the theory on word of the experimenters. Every teacher can test the theory in their own classrooms and determine for themselves if the theory works as it should.

Any approach to education has to be broad enough to meet the educational needs of the target student base, easy enough so that the average teacher can master and implement it, flexible enough to deal with different conditions, resilient enough to come back from difficulties, and finally must always be seen as a work in progress.

John G.


Blogger Michael said...

Teaching math is the hobby of one of my friends
teaching jobs

January 2, 2009 at 2:38 AM  
Blogger FSC729 said...

Great, I wish him and his class the best.

January 5, 2009 at 12:43 AM  

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