Showing posts with label content. Show all posts
Showing posts with label content. Show all posts

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Content vs Process

Here is the first of (I imagine) many articles on the importance of teaching content in schools and the reemergence of the idea that developed conceptual understanding can only be achieved by having a baseline of subject knowledge.

It has always been to my mind counter-intuitive to request a student to "understand" a topic without having facts to scaffold that understanding upon. There is no use in giving students methods of learning information if time to learn the information is not given and valued. The constant devaluation of content knowledge vs developing process has lead to a flawed education system.

I have to agree with the writer that being a yr 11/12 subject teacher with a deep understanding of a course requires more ability than that of 6/7/8/9 or 10. These experts in their fields deserve to be paid more and gain recognition for the guiding of students at this critical point in their lives. It is high pressure work with success leading to recognition for the school and the making of careers for students. Failure can lead to pressure from parents, administration and (more damaging) self criticism and confidence depletion.

Having experienced now 7,8,9,10,11,12 there is no doubt in my mind that the pressure involved in getting students over the TEE line far outweighs anything in earlier years. I have utmost respect for those that do it successfully over long periods of time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Surfing & Structured and sequenced content

When at uni, in my last year I sent a letter to the Dean about the mathematics course. The gist of it was that I thought that the course needed more structured and sequenced content.

It seems this is becoming a more popular view. When 'mature age' students leave university they have a real disadvantage as a lot of mathematics is not fresh in your mind (as it is when you leave school) and you have no real idea what is to be taught to what year group and how. You have to muddle along for a few years before it is all sorted out.

There is also a pressure for all of the kids to feel successful all of the time. To achieve this, typically teachers dumb the course down a little. As you get more experienced you can lift the bar higher without students feeling hopeless, get them to 'ride the wave' so to speak.

The idea of mandating a minimum curriculum (and setting a syllabus) in mathematics for each year group is a good idea. By setting a standard this will assist graduate teachers know what needs to be taught, where the course is going in following years and make for an easier transition when moving between schools. The scope and sequence documents are a good start, but we probably need to now go further and make it compulsory to use these as the minimum benchmark for teaching mathematics K-10.