06 February 2010

On "refuting"

"I refute (an allegation)"

Can one do that? Surely "refuting" is the result of some judicial process, rather than a personal claim? I may reject or deny or contest an allegation, but some other body has to refute it?

(This post is all my own work. I deliberately consulted no external sources on this definition; that is the point.)

On responsibility for climate change

There's another survey tonight whipping up a fuss about the declining proportion of the population believing in "man-made" (sic) climate change.

It doesn't matter! IF it is happening, it is futile to allocate "blame". There is an implicit assumption that if "we" caused it, "we" can sort it out.

Not so.

On a thoughtftul consideration of what constitutes plagiarism

No--I'm not posting this (merely) because I am quoted approvingly. Jim Hamlyn explores what "plagiarism" means in the context of a discipline in which (critically, implicit) allusion and reference matter a lot, and provides much food for thought.

01 February 2010

On the point of teaching

An excellent piece on being able to see the wood for the trees in relation to teaching;
In discussions of “effective” teaching, we often hear about the “objectives” that teachers should spell out and repeat, the “learning styles” they should target, the “engagement” they should guarantee at every moment, and the constant encouragement and praise they should provide—all in the interest of raising test scores. The D.C. public schools IMPACT (the teacher assessment system for D.C. public schools) awards points to teachers who implement such practices; Teach For America addresses some of them in its forthcoming book.

Except for the misguided notion of targeting learning styles, none of these techniques is wrong in itself. But together they raise a barrier. Instead of bringing the subject closer to the students, this heap of tools proclaims: “No entrance! The subject is too hard without spelled-out skills, too boring without adornment, and too frustrating without pep talks and cheers!”

Worse still, such techniques take precedence over the lesson’s content. A literature teacher is evaluated not for her presentation of specific poems, but for stating the objectives, keeping all students “on task,” reminding them about the relation between hard work and success, using visuals and manipulatives, and, ultimately, raising the scores. It matters little, in such a system, whether the poem is excellent or trivial, what kind of insight the teacher brings, or what the students might take into their lives."
My sentiments exactly, as I've note before on the blog  and on the site. And thanks to Sheffner for saving me the trouble of looking up those urls for myself!

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