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Topic: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Replies: 22   Last Post: Jul 19, 2011 11:12 AM

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Ralph A. Raimi

Posts: 724
Registered: 12/3/04
Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Posted: Jul 17, 2011 3:05 PM
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On Sun, 17 Jul 2011, Ze'ev Wurman wrote:

> Beautifully said. It precisely captures the evolution of the education
> reform movement into a pure "social justice" movement.


Not so pure:

>
> The underlying purpose of this movement has long ago stopped being the
> improvement of instruction. It now attempts to re-define it, so the
> "right" social order, with the "right" proportions of newly privileged
> minorities, can be installed.


True as far as it goes, but the movement needs *nutrition*, too,
or else its major advocates would have to go out and look for honest jobs.
Without massive injections of money from organizations ranging from Gates
to the USDOE it could not survive, and those injections would dry up if
they couldn't be advertised properly. Once it has been established that
the Brooklyn Bridge salesmen are frauds that particular scam has to be
shifter to at least a different bridge, and after a generation or two, to
the Holland Tunnel. A sucker is surely born every minute, and even
Congressmen have been known to be deceived. Education itself is of course
sacrosanct, and so a better bet than bridges, but only provided you have a
line of reforms to sell.

Let us therefore watch out for evidence of success, as we try to
inject mathematics into the curriculum named "mathematics"; it might only
be a new reform.

Except for this modification, I have only praise for "k12sense",
and, as always, Ze'ev Wurman.

Perhaps a quicker way would be simply to
> issue a college degree to every newborn together with the birth certificate.

Surely you're joking, Mr. Wurman.


> Ze'ev
>
> On 7/17/2011 6:36 AM, k12sense wrote:

>>
>> (I posted this earlier)
>>
>> The lecture versus no-lecture debate is, like other reforms, confusing
>> to the accomplished mind. It is confusing because lectures are so
>> ubiquitous in our lives and when we wish to communicate ideas to
>> others we lecture without a second's hesitation. It is confusing to us
>> that such a natural form of intellectual communication would be
>> attacked by some educators as being anti teaching. How can something
>> that we do so naturally be at the same time anti teaching? I am
>> thrilled when my son try's to lecture me during a lesson. Nothing
>> signals deeper learning than when the student tries to teach.
>>
>> Adding to the confusion is the fact that the proponents of
>> no-lecturing use no other form but the lecture to try to sway us.
>> Indeed, Eric Mazur, the father of the no-lecture movement, travels the
>> country giving lectures about not lecturing. So if lecturing is so
>> natural to even non-lecturers then what is their point? Well, first I
>> want to note a very important point that Mazur makes regarding
>> lectures and then I will address the more popularized debate we are
>> familiar with. In one of Mazur's talks he makes the following
>> insightful statement...
>>
>> "The traditional 50-minute lecture was geared more toward physics
>> majors, said Eric Mazur, a physicist at Harvard who is a pioneer of
>> the new approach, and whose work has influenced the change at M.I.T.
>> The people who wanted to understand," Professor Mazur said, "had the
>> discipline, the urge, to sit down afterwards and say, 'Let me figure
>> this out.' "But for the majority, he said, a different approach is
>> needed."
>>
>> So it is that the students that aspire to these subjects have the urge
>> to figure things out and that urge inevitably leads to lecture. And
>> those without the urge are going to get very little out of a lecture.
>> This makes perfect sense. And if you read Mazur's lecture notes on the
>> subject of no lecturing he repeatedly makes a distinction between
>> these two groups of students. Those that aspire to the subject at hand
>> and have this urge and those that do not, or at least, do not yet. And
>> often, he is pretty explicit, even identifying those that will
>> probably never have the urge, such as is the case with a physics class
>> for business majors and a physics class for physics majors or
>> engineering majors.
>>
>> So why is there a debate? It would seem that Mazur solved the riddle
>> rather well. To a reasonable person at this point, a debate regarding
>> lectures would be a debate of when to use lectures and when not. But
>> that seems a done deal, so I ask again, why is there a debate? There
>> is still a debate because the debate isn't about lectures.
>>
>> Traditionally, advanced courses like physics and calculus were
>> attended by students with a very real urge and interest. The idea of
>> putting a student that lacked that urge in such a class did not exist.
>> So the traditional methods that we take for granted, like lectures,
>> were naturally selected with these traditional students in mind.
>>
>> Over time, policy changes driven by various agendas, some noble and
>> some not, directed and coerced more students into these classes.
>> Teachers found themselves not just teaching the subject to the
>> traditional student already with the urge and interest (that we took
>> for granted), but also teaching students lacking these traits. First a
>> few, and then more, and then many more.
>>
>> Naturally, these students, lacking a personal draw to the subject, did
>> very poorly in an environment (and some would even say a subject)
>> designed for those who were already drawn. Thus, this same group of
>> policy makers that had directed these undrawn students into these
>> classes then took to the Inventing of alternative ways to teach. And
>> they based the worth of these new ways to teach not on the effect they
>> have on the traditional student with the urge, but on the
>> non-traditional student without. At first this slight was harmless.
>> The traditional student was still doing their thing and the concern
>> was with the non-traditional student that was floundering. But as time
>> wore on and success eluded their every attempt, this slight became
>> more deliberate and mean spirited. A new strategy evolved.
>>
>> Not being able to find a solution and growing ever more frustrated
>> with their failure, these policy makers did a most horrible thing.
>> They did what human nature unfortunately dictates in such a situation.
>> They blamed their failure on others. They blamed their failure on the
>> traditional methods suited for the traditional student. And they went
>> even further than that. Not only did they blame their failure on the
>> traditional methods, they made claims that the traditional methods
>> were bad for all students. They began a campaign to strike from use
>> any and all methods associated with the traditional student and their
>> urges. Policy makers did this. Teachers did this. This urge is to
>> teaching what the Hippocratic oath is to doctoring, yet they declared
>> war on it and all teaching methods associated with it. No longer was
>> teaching to be the primary act of feeding the urge.
>>
>> The lecture debate is not about lectures any more than the arithmetic
>> debate was about arithmetic. The lecture debate and virtually all
>> current reform debate is about refuting traditional students and their
>> urges because if reformers do not refute these urges then they might
>> as well turn off the lights and go home. Reform may have started out
>> with noble intentions 50 years ago but they are certainly not noble
>> any longer. Reformers may have started with the goal to make urge-full
>> students out of all students but that proved to be frustratingly
>> difficult and was abandoned (almost entirely) at least 20 years ago.
>> It is still the policy makers' intent to coerce students into classes
>> for which the students lack an urge for. And it is now the reformers
>> task to hide that reality and their favorite theory on hiding it is to
>> deny the urge and deny any method that implies the urge.
>>
>> Also, several weeks ago I voiced my puzzlement as to why reform
>> theories have this common and explicit disdain for traditional
>> theories. In all other areas of science each subsequent theory doesn't
>> entirely refute the previous theory. It builds on it and reconciles
>> with it. But then it dawned on me, especially in this lecture debate,
>> reformists have long ago abandoned that approach. Reformists are not
>> trying to build a new theory of education in the image of the
>> traditional methods and successes. They also do not want any theory
>> that has anything to do with urges because that implies haves and
>> have-nots. A reformist debate is actually a very brief event. The
>> reformist will proclaim success and the traditionalist will reply "But
>> those aren't the results we were looking for?" And then the reformist
>> will rebut "We decided that the results you were looking for were not
>> the right results to look for." The motive in reform is not and has
>> not been results for a ! couple decades now, long enough unfortunately
>> for many teachers to not even know of a time when there were results.
>>
>> In my original post I called this the "Mazur Effect" and that might
>> have come across as disparaging to Mazur. That was not my intent at
>> all. It was Mazur's ideas that filled in some holes for me and it was
>> Mazur's work that was so badly misinterpreted by people like Hake. You
>> think there are problems in high school calculus? Spend some time
>> around high school physics and you will praise high school calculus.
>> If any one subject ever represented best that urge to figure things
>> out it was high school physics. When you remove that urge from that
>> subject it is I tell you the most unbearable thing to watch. I was
>> frustrated with what I saw in math education, I was broken with what I
>> saw with physics education. It was like having this fabulous piece of
>> art at home that you love and you go on vacation, and when you return
>> you find that your kids have destroyed it. As you gather the pieces
>> together of what is left you are broken by the realization that it is
>> gone but at the! same time you can't blame the kids because they
>> didn't understand what it was.
>>
>> I will say this though, I am certain that if Mazur was smart enough to
>> identify the traits of the traditional student with the urge to figure
>> things out then he also knows what is going on and how absurd some of
>> these reform threads have become. That he says nothing of this dark
>> side says something. And this goes for the rest of his establishment
>> as well.
>>
>> Bob Hansen
>>
>>

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> ------------------------------------
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Ralph A. Raimi Tel. 585 275 4429 or (home) 585 244 9368
Dept. of Mathematics, Univ. of Rochester, Rochester, NY 14627
<http://www.math.rochester.edu/people/faculty/rarm/>




Date Subject Author
7/16/11
Read [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Richard Hake
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Dennis
7/17/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement
7/17/11
Read [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/17/11
Read [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Zeev Wurman
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Ralph A. Raimi
7/17/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Zeev Wurman
7/17/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/17/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement
7/17/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement
7/18/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/18/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/18/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement
7/18/11
Read Re: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Robert Hansen
7/18/11
Read [math-learn] RE: Math/science thinking skills Was(Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2)
John Clement
7/18/11
Read Re: [math-learn] RE: Math/science thinking skills Was(Lecture Isn't
Effective: More Evidence #2)
Ladnor Geissinger
7/18/11
Read Re: [math-learn] RE: Math/science thinking skills Was(Lecture Isn't
Effective: More Evidence #2) --- OOOPS
Ladnor Geissinger
7/19/11
Read Re: [math-learn] RE: Math/science thinking skills Was(Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2)
Robert Hansen
7/18/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
Ralph A. Raimi
7/18/11
Read RE: [math-learn] Re: Lecture Isn't Effective: More Evidence #2
John Clement

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