Wednesday, October 26, 2011

C4T #3

For this C4T I was assigned to comment on a teacher named Frank Noschese, a physics teacher at John Jay High School in New York. ( He is a member of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), the National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA), and the Science Teacher Association of New York State (STANYS). The post I commented on was actually a quote by a student "high schoolers are about the grades and never the learning factor. They just cram in everything right before the test and never think about what they are reading, but what grade they will get and how much they think will be on the test." 

My comment was along these lines: I completely agree with your student Mr. Noschese. Many high school students believe their GPA and what grade they get matters the most, because they forget the information just a couple of days later. Understanding and actually learning do not, for the most part, cross a high school student's mind since it is all going to be tested on, and then on to the next lesson.

I was looking through Mr. Noschese's blog today, and found a very interesting post by him about pseudo-teaching. Him and an associate, John Burk, came up with the explanation for this being the follow: 'Teaching something that looks like a good lesson from the outside, and the students feel like they are learning...but in reality the teaching is flawed and the learning was very minimal'. Mr. Noschese has an example: a teacher at MIT that teaches physics, Professor Lewin. This man loves physics and loves to teach about the wonders of it to his students. However, there was a fatal flaw in his teaching; he was pseudo-teaching and his class wasn't truly learning anything. The professor's lecture class attendance dropped 40% by the end of the semester and 24% of the students were failing. Essentially, he was the one doing the teaching, and noone was learning anything. A physicist named Richard Feyman (Feynman’s Six Easy Pieces from 30 years earlier ended up realizing that there need to be more interaction and hands on learning with the students. The students must be engaged in something to understand it, learn it, and remember it. Mr. Duschene did not have to buy $5,000 worth of equipment to get his students involved though. He got $2 white boards enough for the class to share in small groups, and had his lab assistants set up in different parts of the classrooms with projections to help the students if need be. Now, instead of asking "what will I do in class tomorrow?" it is "what will my students do in class tomorrow?"

I think, however, that there isn’t any solution to this problem of education other than to realize that the best teaching can be done only when there is a direct individual relationship between a student and a good teacher—a situation in which the student discusses the ideas, thinks about the things, and talks about the things. It’s impossible to learn very much by simply sitting in a lecture, or even by simply doing problems that are assigned. But in our modem times we have so many students to teach that we have to try to find some substitute for the ideal. Perhaps my lectures can make some contribution. Perhaps in some small place where there are individual teachers and students, they may get some inspiration or some ideas from the lectures. Perhaps they will have fun thinking them through—or going on to develop some of the ideas further.
June 1963

My response: Pseudo-teaching can be dangerous for students, but easy for teachers when they are short on time or want to get a lesson done with. As a soon-to-be teacher, hands-on is very important to me. Some students learn by visual, while others learn by engaging in something using the tools provided for them, as you did with whiteboards. I like the idea of putting students in groups and letting work together, and also with the help of the assistants if needed. Hopefully pseudo-teaching isn't always what teachers turn to.

1 comment:

  1. Your post is a little "messy" and hard to follow. It is YOUR post, though, so you may dress it up however you'd like! It may be in your best interest, however, to look back over your post before publishing it to consider if the audience will enjoy and will be able to read it. Otherwise, good job!