kitchen table math, the sequel: 2-bit lit crit and quality control

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

2-bit lit crit and quality control

Terrence Moore's The Story-Killers was a revelation to me in any number of ways, one being the idea that English teachers should not spend their time teaching what Moore calls two-bit lit crit. (I'm sure Carol Jago has something intelligent to say on the subject -- will report once I finally get to her book.)

In the meantime, just a few minutes ago I came across the video below, which appears on the flipped learning network site's "Examples of Videos page." The lesson pretty much exemplifies two-bit lit crit, I think.

But the two-bit lit crit-ness is the least of it, which is why I'm posting.

Watch the first 30 seconds or so. See what you think.

The oddness of this flipped-classroom offering brings up an issue I've been wondering about: where is the quality control?

Here in New York, administrators are now required to make at least two visits to each teacher's classroom per school year (my district is doing four) -- but if teachers are recording their lessons, who's watching the videos?

Do the 'board members' and 'staff' of the flipped learning network watch lesson videos before posting them to their site?

Plot Structure at the IMA (7:08, Cockrum)

Kai Musing said...

The oddness of this flipped-classroom offering brings up an issue I've been wondering about: where is the quality control?

There is none.

Do the 'board members' and 'staff' of the flipped learning network watch lesson videos before posting them to their site?

Of course not.

You are asking for logic and coherence in a system desperate for magical panaceas. They'd rather see a lesson that talks about the general patterns of stories than stressing "low-level" knowledge (Bloom's rears its ugly head again) and understanding of a story.

Skills before knowledge, transfer... etc... Rinse, repeat, fail...

A propos of the video: boooorrrrring. I can't imagine any of my students watching the whole thing, much less remembering and applying it. A live presentation is much more effective -- one reason being that the speaker is (consciously or not) receiving feedback from the listeners. If they are all looking out the window, or slumped at the desk, the speaker realizes (consciously or not) that he is losing his audience and changes gears.

I could see a photo of this apparatus, combined with a live dialogue, being an effective presentation.

But this one? Wake me when its over...

I'm glad I have always worked in low-SES schools where there is no chance of "flipped classrooms" b/c the majority of students don't have the technology at home. Thank goodness for small favors. Maybe this is one reason our test score surpass those of many upper-class schools. We spend the time on direct instruction.

Hainish said...

I'm going to second the sentiment of booooorrring!! But, is half the stuff he says even (universally) true? Or is he describing Western literature? Or how people with English degrees think about Western literature?

Catherine Johnson said...

I find the opening creepy.

Catherine Johnson said...

I find the opening creepy.

Catherine Johnson said...

Kai writes: "(Bloom's rears its ugly head again)"

I'm bugging Dan Willingham to write something about Bloom.

He says he's had the idea in the back of his mind for years.

We really need a definitive critique we can all link to. The one everyone found is terrific, but it doesn't carry the weight an article by Dan would.

Niels Henrik Abel said...

We really need a definitive critique we can all link to. The one everyone found is terrific, but it doesn't carry the weight an article by Dan would.

I second that. I need something to counter my dean's rigid insistence on teaching according to Bloom. I get dinged on my evals all the time because of that nonsense, and it would be nice to be able to put something on my self-assessment to take on that sacred cow.

SteveH said...

Shoot me now.

I find the opening creepy too.

Educators are trained in discovery in ed school, but now claim that direct instruction is OK if students view it at home. Then they attempt to create direct instruction videos themselves. This one, like many I've seen, are slow, boring, and just plain bad. Direct teaching is a performance skill, which, if done well, can create amazing results and lead to better student "discoveries" than if they are left to their own devices.

ChemProf said...

I'm reminded of why I don't like PowerPoint for lectures -- they are boring because you have to go with the solution you pre-planned. With the chalkboard, I can ask the class "what's the next step" and follow their process, even if it wasn't the step I had in mind. It is a lot livelier, and this seems even worse (if that's possible).

Anonymous said...

Well, the video is awful...boring and creepy for sure. But maybe this kind of flipping should be required of all non-tenured teachers so that the public can see what they are getting before it's too late to do anything about it. Crowd-sourced tenure decisions...

Catherine Johnson said...

You guys are cracking me up!

Anonymous---I had the exact same thought: putting this stuff up on YouTube is ***hugely*** demystifying.

(I had a lot of trouble believing this person is a real teacher, but Debbie Googled him & it seems like he is. Still, he doesn't give the real name of his school, which I think teachers usually do --?)

Catherine Johnson said...

Hainish - good question re: stories.

Intuitively, I have trouble with the idea that all fiction has 'rising action' --- that certainly can't be said of all narrative. (I'm thinking of narratives in the Bible.)

Catherine Johnson said...

Niels - I'm going to forward you comment to Dan.