Sunday, January 04, 2009

Teaching Pt 8

The ideas presented in this blog are mostly directed towards schools that need improvement. A high performing or even average performing school may not need to consider all the ideas, since they have a system that works, more or less.

The scientific approach is not meant to stifle ideas, discussions, or debate. Vigorous discussions are common in all the sciences, it serves as a method by which to determine which theories are worthy to be tested and which don't work, even in the abstract. In the end, though, it is experiment that determines which theory is closer to reality. Without a test to falsify competing theories scientific progress is very difficult.

I suppose this is the ultimate form of optimism, the belief that with enough thought and enough work most problems can be solved.

One criticizes, not to personally offend, but to improve. Problems are identified and analyzed in the light of day, not to embarrass, but to solve them. Failure scenarios are considered, not to be negative, but to design systems to avoid them. Counterarguments are developed, not to bicker, but to vigorously articulate and develop one's ideas. Ideas are rigorously tested, not to stifle creativity or freedom, but to guide us towards truth. Non-falsified theories are standardized, not to dictate how to think, because it is easier to learn, master, and contribute when you have set system of thought, rather than to try to re-derive centuries of thought in one lifetime.

Field Testing

In keeping with the principle of field testing, we should welcome feedback from the teachers and the students. Just as in software testing, it is often difficult to test for every single scenario, and sometimes the theory or approach may not have taken into account certain factors that affect the student learning outcomes. Allowing for honest feedback is a great way to find weak spots in the educational systems approach. Given that teachers may be reluctant to offer honest feedback, due to administrative concerns, we may have to look at online forums where teachers are able to post anonymously.

More Later

John G.


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