Be careful

Blogged in a cab, at midnight between the airport and the hotel. Never done that before. So I’m sure it could come off sloppy both in format and content. So be it.


It’s been very frustrating of late watching people debate important topics on twitter. It’s a lousy place to argue. But it’s not just twitter. There are some important ideas that require discussion and instead of being interested in exploring things in depth, we’ve resorted to 140 character sound bites. That often leaves us ready to make quick judgements and ignore the subtle nuances and perspectives that are less obvious.

There are three ideas that illustrate this particularly well.

Lecture: I’ve already blogged about thisi before but continue to hear constant bashing about lectures. Certainly it may be overdone and there are often better ways to learn but the simple idea of listening to someone talk is not something I’m ready to toss out the window. Less of it? Shorter lectures? Sure. But don’t bash the pedagogy. Or else stop listening to others talk.

Homework: This concept really requires definition. Most of us have a vision of kids sitting at a table crying over having to answer questions from a text book or completing work not finished in class. Some may be thinking of the flipped classroom. I’m thinking about extending learning beyond the school. That can’t always be bad can it? Most people would add “depends” to conversations about whether homework is good or bad. Then they go on to define their parameters. Yet it’s just easier to say homework is bad.

Worksheets: Like homework, we have very specific images of worksheets. Mostly low level busy work. But few would say simply doing work on paper or digital is bad. I’ll also add that if kids occasionally do a mindless worksheet lets not freak out. Teachers and kids can use a break.

To be clear I’m not advocating for any of these practices only to say be careful. I would that these are three ideas that in general are overused and misused. But teachers that use these practices may not be evil, unenlightened professional you thought they were and they actually may be using these things very well. They may have a different definition and perspective from you. At the very least, ask them why they do what they do instead of calling them out.