Exams and learning

Is teaching getting people to do things or telling them about things ? Or if you can get them to do the right things, can you get them to realise things without telling them anything ? How do you work out what it is they need to know before they are in a position to realise something ? And where does development fit into that ?

Does developing the body of knowledge you need to pass the Module One exam count as development ? It feels very different from the development in classroom practice you hope someone goes through in Module Two, but then that should also be bolstered by the research for background assignments, so there is further development in the theoretical knowledge underpinning what a teacher does. What do you develop in Three ? Your understanding of some further areas, of how to write on a slightly larger scale, of how to pull conclusions out of a mass of data.This morning I read …

For about five years I taught psychology – including learning theory, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology and comparative psychology. One of my main reasons for leaving teaching was that I wanted to put what I knew into practice. That might seem odd, but it’s a great deal odder to find yourself in a classroom writing ‘Piaget believed learning should be exploratory’ onto a board while students obediently copy it down.

I was reading him because I think if I read more about learning and therefore understood it at a greater depth, I could design better courses to help people learn how to teach language more effectively – one too many loop in there for comfort.

Continue reading Exams and learning


Dewey Experience and Education

One of the catalysts for writing in here was reading Dewey. I read him on a beach, so while it left me with a sense of ‘wow, he said lots of things I’ve been thinking but haven’t been able to quite put into words’ it was only a sense. The idea of this is to go back to him and write some of it down to try and see where I can make connections.
The quotes are from the Kindle version of his 1938 book Experience and Education.

It is the business of an intelligent theory of education to ascertain the causes for the conflicts that exist and then instead of taking one side or the other, to indicate a plan of operations proceeding from a level deeper and more inclusive than is represented by the practices and ideas of the contending parties. … not a compromise .. nor an eclectic combination … new modes of practice …
And that’s just in his preface.
And it resonates because there are so many arguments that seem to have been pushed to ends of a spectrum in ELT (tech as means or end or distraction, materials as supporting framework or obstacle) and the arguments seem good in that people are talking about what they do and why they do it, but not so good in that there is often a feel of someone wanting to win (or convert others) as opposed to wanting to learn from the dialogue. Dewey seems to have encapsulated the idea of the helix in what he says – not going round and round, but moving on to new understanding, but then if I’ve understood David White, perhaps going round does push us further on, we just don’t always see it. Continue reading Dewey Experience and Education