Friday, November 18, 2005

End of Education Pt. 1

I am reading a book called The End of Education by Neil Postman. He is not necessarilt talking about the end (as in the opposite of beginning), but more so the end (as in the reason for or purpose of education).

He has a few ideas to make teaching better. A few interesting propositions, anyway.

1. "We could improve the quality of teaching overnight, as it were, if math teachers were assigned to teach art, art teachers science, science teachers English." (pg. 115)

His reasoning is that many teachers (mostly high school and college, though this thought could improve elementary teacher as well.) teach subject what they are good at. Consequently, these teacher have difficulty seeing the subject through the eyes of those not good at it.

My beautiful wife and eye have discussed this before and it makes sense. One of her jobs is to teach math to students who are lower than the general population. My wife was not good at math going through school. She has WAY more patience than I do teaching someone not good at math. She understands where they are coming from-I wonder why they don't "get it".

So the idea of teaching someone something you're not necessarily good at helps you become a better teacher. (NOTE: you don't have to get paid to be able to teach someone something).

2. "We can improve the quality of teaching and learning...by getting rid of all textbooks." (pg 115)

He suggests most textbooks are boring, impersonal, and badly written. Also, he suggests that the facts presented are presented as if their is no refuting them. They may be helpful for engaging students and enhancing learning as a pursuit of truth and understanding, but this would be scary for most teachers (including me) in terms of designing curriculum (what we are planning on teaching students). What to replace this with is coupled with the next and final idea:

#3 coming up next.

Derrick

2 comments:

Kwame said...

<<1. "We could improve the quality of teaching overnight, as it were, if math teachers were assigned to teach art, art teachers science, science teachers English." (pg. 115)>>

But would you really want a math teacher trying to teach you how to paint and draw complex images, or an art teacher trying to teach you how to solve quadratic equations and stuff? As a rule of thumb, don’t you want teachers who are masters of their fields of instruction?


<<2. "We can improve the quality of teaching and learning...by getting rid of all textbooks." (pg 115)

He suggests most textbooks are boring, impersonal, and badly written. Also, he suggests that the facts presented are presented as if their [sic] is no refuting them. They may be helpful for engaging students and enhancing learning as a pursuit of truth and understanding, but this would be scary for most teachers (including me) in terms of designing curriculum (what we are planning on teaching students). What to replace this with is coupled with the next and final idea:>>

I look forward to seeing what the idea is. Meanwhile, if teachers were to throw textbooks out in favor of mere lectures of teachers or instructors who will take pains to say, “Historians believe that an accident at Port Chicago killed the Black sailors” as opposed to “An accident at Port Chicago killed the Black sailors,” is there not such a thing as hyperskepticism or such a thing as not being assertive enough? I hope Postman does not advocate that people go overboard with rejoinders to things such as macroevolutionism and false history in textbooks.

Post-script: Read ch. 16 of Vogel’s book before jumping to agree with the likes of Wikipedia’s article on the Port Chicago explosion.

Derrick Bright said...

Kwame:
But would you really want a math teacher trying to teach you how to paint and draw complex images, or an art teacher trying to teach you how to solve quadratic equations and stuff? As a rule of thumb, don’t you want teachers who are masters of their fields of instruction?

----Obviously not, when trying to become an expert in the field. His point more had to do with those required to take certain courses and they have struggles.

He would hope that teachers would view the subject as a "new learner rather than an old teacher, and he might discover how nerve-racking the fear of making mistakes is".

I think this is an easy trap to fall into as a teacher to forget what it is like to struggle with something you're not good at. I think the same goes for being a Christian when an "old Christian" forgets what it was like to struggle with sin (more egregious sin, anyway).

I think it helps us stay sympathetic to those that "aren't up to our level". Kind of like some of the conversations we have-it would be easy for me to not want to talk linguitics or some of the finer points of distinction in meaning of different words because I'm making all kinds of mistakes. My purpose is not to be completely precise (as a surgeon), but in some cases simply make generalizations and see how they can apply to my being a better Christian/person/husband/whatever.

Kind of glean what I can use right now, toss the rest. There has to be some sense of contentness with where I am in life-otherwise I will be driven to the mad house with my perfectionism. But that's in part because I know me.

Sorry if my future responses seem a little shorter. I don't have a ton of time to answer as comepletely as you (or I) may like.

Gotta run,
Derrick