Brain, Education, and Inquiry - Fall, 2010: Session 13

Paul Grobstein's picture

Brain, Education, and Inquiry

Bryn Mawr College, Fall 2010

Session 11A

Facilitated by D2B, LCubed

Teaching Matters

 

"What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation."- Marcus Cicero

"Great teachers...constantly reevaluate what they are doing....Strong teachers insist that effective teaching is neither mysterious nor  magical.  It is neither a function of dynamic personality nor dramatic performance" 
-Steven Farr

 

Traditional Teaching 
 
Power Teaching

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBeWEgvGm2Y

What Students Want

 

Your continuing thoughts about this and its relation to the classroom in the forum below ....

 

 

 

Comments

LinKai_Jiang's picture

The Power Teaching seems

The Power Teaching seems powerful indeed. But it is too much "in your face" to be broadly applicably. I think it does address some aspect of classroom dynamic and student engagement. Students are required to be attentive to what the teachers are saying and actively respond to (or simply repeat) the fragments of the lessons. One concern is that would students remember anything afterward? Sure they can repeat fragments of the lecture and have memory aids built into the lesson, but understanding the material is a different matter. Sometimes, what students need is quiet time to reflect on the materials. It is a mistake to think that the whole brain learning entails flapping one's arms around and be talking all the time. Pauses are important for students to either ask questions or just quietly reflect. Among other subjects, higher mathematics cannot be taught with gestures and simple repetitions. 

 

 

 

 

 

D2B's picture

...

While searching for examples of teaching styles to present to the class, I found what I very much expected: more approaches to teaching and teaching philosophies than there are sunflowers in the summer. That being said, the reason why we chose the Power Teaching example is because it was an approach that seems to attempt at integrating not only critiques of the traditional, less than desirable classroom but also suggestions for new-age interactive and "fun" learning environments. It's hard to say whether the Power Teaching passed or failed at this attempt because in practice the learning environment quickly becomes one of prompted demeanor and routinization. While in principle power  teaching explores the obvious understanding of the brain, stimuli and engagement, it completely ignores one very important aspect of brain-based learning, the role of emotions and emotive learning. I can foresee issues with power teaching just off of the fact that it forces emotive engagement. Students do not need to always be in an amazing mood to partake in the method however this method does require positive response.

D2B's picture

...

While searching for examples of teaching styles to present to the class, I found what I very much expected: more approaches to teaching and teaching philosophies than there are sunflowers in the summer. That being said, the reason why we chose the Power Teaching example is because it was an approach that seems to attempt at integrating not only critiques of the traditional, less than desirable classroom but also suggestions for new-age interactive and "fun" learning environments. It's hard to say whether the Power Teaching passed or failed at this attempt because in practice the learning environment quickly becomes one of prompted demeanor and routinization. While in principle power  teaching explores the obvious understanding of the brain, stimuli and engagement, it completely ignores one very important aspect of brain-based learning, the role of emotions and emotive learning. I can foresee issues with power teaching just off of the fact that it forces emotive engagement. Students do not need to always be in an amazing mood to partake in the method however this method does require positive response.

Evren's picture

Complete Teacher

I think the point made at the end of the presentation, that a complete teacher will always realize there is room for improvement, (so in a sense there can never be a complete teacher) applies not only to the teacher's self-perception, but also the teacher's perception of students. Too often teachers either believe that a student is too good for a class, or not prepared enough for a class, and as a result, those students will benefit less from the class if the teacher teaches with that in mind. However, if the teacher can find ways to get the "star" student and the overwhelmed student to gain more from the class than most would believe possible, that marks a fantastic teacher who understands that every student can benefit from any class.

L Cubed's picture

Teaching Matters

I was not at all surprised by everyone's response to the videos that we showed in class depicting two sides of the extreme when it comes to teaching and its affectiveness. I agree that affective teaching lies somewhere in the middle of two where the teachers engages students on many different levels, always aware of and incorporating the different learning styles that each of their students posses. One of aspects of power teaching that I liked, although I did not necessarily agree with components of  its execution, was the fact that students also played the role of teacher. They were given the opportunity to teach and learn from one another which I think is beneficial for both parties involved. I do think that one of the major missung components though is discovery. Rather than always having the teacher relay information, the students should be given the opportinuty to discover things on their own, reflect, and discuss which is what we tried to provide through our "presentation" in showing the video, using the puzzle with missing pieces in the the group activity, and allowing time for discover and discussion. Having said this, I think that co-constructive inquiry is powerful and extremely affective for teaching. 

Ameneh's picture

"We learn more by looking for

"We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself"  ~Lloyd Alexander

I think this quote pretty much sums up the problem with the video we saw in class about Power Learning. Not to say that active learning in undesirable at all, but the way it applied seemed wrong. The active pursuit, the struggle to get to an answer is far more effective for learning than simple repetition. So, "We never scold, we just rehearse" doesn't necessarily remedy the problems of a purely didactic form of teaching.

 

eledford's picture

"Learning is not a spectator

"Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much just sitting in classes listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write reflectively about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn part of themselves."

(Chickering & Gamson, 1987)

ellenv's picture

active learning

 I think it would be easy to apply this quote to both types of teaching that we saw last week in class. Both traditional teaching strategies and power teaching strategies rely more on memorization than interaction and active learning. I think that power teaching is really just traditional teaching repackaged. The interaction that the students have with the martial is just as superficial as the interaction that is created in traditional teaching, the only difference is that the students appear to be active in the learning process. I like this quote because it really defines what active learning and teaching is. Active learning doesnt mean that the students are simply opening their mouths and talking, it goes beyond that. Active learning involves a level of thought that both traditional and power teaching lack. When the quote says "they must make what they learn part of themselves" I think it is essentially getting at the idea of identity. Students bring their own identity to the classroom, but at the same time, the classroom shapes their identity which means that students' identities should be fluid rather than fixed. Traditional and power teaching both rely on the idea of a fixed identity and it is easy to attack them because of that but at the same time, it seems like truly active teaching that allows for the exploration of identity is very hard to create and find. 

bennett's picture

This quotation makes me

This quotation makes me wonder whether talking about "teaching" as a practice that can be taught to large aggregates of people, all of whom think about teaching as a thing that can be done in a right way or a wrong way, is even the best way to go about talking about teaching in the first place. Which isn't to say that there are no general principles required of every teacher (i.e., respect, concern, etc.) but that no two groups of students (irrespective even of their size) will ever be the same (even from day to day or moment to moment) in the sense of how they respond to any particular instruction, exercise, set of facts, etc. So teachers must be similarly "present"–they must be prepared to respond flexibly and creatively to the sometimes irreducibly novel behavior of their students. For example: in a culture that does not particularly value scholarship or erudition (doesn't ask for it from its public officials, doesn't endow it's public schools, etc.) how should a teacher make learning appealing to students (ostensibly there to learn, and be socialized, and to get out of the house I guess). I think that there is no one answer, except that "it depends"–it depends on the students and on the time and space. And power teaching does some of that work, maybe, but probably not all of it.

jessicarizzo's picture

indeed

This is quite lovely.  I'd add that learning, if it's real learning, must change the fabric of those daily lives and those selves.  I don't think fourteen year olds should feel short-changed if they go to class and aren't learning things that directly pertain to the problems absorbing most of their time and energy... like wondering if the cool kids will start inviting him to parties if he makes the baseball team this year, or worrying that Johny won't ask her to the Christmas dance because she's not pretty enough (and some fourteen year olds certainly have more interesting problems).  But learning should be something that incrementally changes you, that helps you evolve from a person with a narrow, petty, present-tense range of concerns to as broad a range as possible... it should push back the boundaries and diversify the terrain of your psychic landscape.  And since everything is a construction of the brain, this will widen the scope and vary the obstacle courses of your life.

Ameneh's picture

Echoing what has already been

Echoing what has already been said, power teaching (or whole brain teaching) seems to be as problematic, if not more, as a purely didactic form of teaching. After seeing the video, I feel like power teaching creates robots, not learners. For one, there is too much emphasis on imitation and repetition. Moreover, students didn’t take notes and there was no space to ask questions and that isn’t conducive to learning. If I was taught this way, I’m pretty sure I would hate it. Power teaching treats students as all being the same and ignores their individuality and the fact that everyone learns best in starkly different ways. It also kills creativity. I also wonder about the practicality of it. Would teachers be willing to do this? Would you be able to cover all the material needed? Would it work for more complicated concepts? The only thing that deserves any attention is learning by teaching, but I’m sure there are better ways of incorporating that into the classroom.

FinnWing's picture

Creepy, Creepy

  My subject describes my opinion of power teaching (or whole brain teaching) as I have seen it.  I don't think that it necessarily has to be like this, but in practice it seems to take this form.  This video shows it in practice in a third grade classroom (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8WpiueGP5s&feature=related), if you do not wish to watch the whole video, please watch from 1:10-2:15 for a unique and baffling experience in editing. 

  I don't think that pure didactic teaching is perfect by any means, but I feel much more love for it after seeing power teaching videos.  As Angela said, power teaching (as shown) does not encourage any sort of creativity or co-constructive inquiry.  Thinking about this style actually is getting me worked up and upset. 

  In response to Simone, I think that an aspect of power teaching that is positive is how it does engage students, it asks them to teach, and it encourages them to move around (if only in their seats).  These aspects can surely be incorporated into a classroom.  A teacher can ask students to repeat some information, but why does it need to be so fast?  A teacher can give students the opportunity to teach one another, but why not throw in some background so they can say why in addition to what?  I would guess that the products of power teaching classrooms will be rote memorizers without the critical thinking skills and creativity that society seems to cherish.  These methods may help on standardized tests, but do you really want to deal with someone who has learned in this style? 

simonec's picture

i agree

in that power teaching seemed to be radical mostly in its volume, as opposed to its practical application. However, i can see it being effective in entry-level language classes as well as with younger children. I thought that showing us the video was a great way of proving the point that it is easy for us to request more energy in classrooms, or more physical engagement, and another thing entirely to implement these concepts. 

The question remains: How do we formally introduce educational methods that have wider appeal, so that class-time can be productive for the most students as possible? 

simonec's picture

i agree

in that power teaching seemed to be radical mostly in its volume, as opposed to its practical application. However, i can see it being effective in entry-level language classes as well as with younger children. I thought that showing us the video was a great way of proving the point that it is easy for us to request more energy in classrooms, or more physical engagement, and another thing entirely to implement these concepts. 

The question remains: How do we formally introduce educational methods that have wider appeal, so that class-time can be productive for the most students as possible? 

Angela DiGioia's picture

I was surprised...

Power Teaching was surprisingly off-putting to me.  Although I didn't feel quite as strongly as Jessica, I did feel that the tone that the teachers used with the students was patronizing and did nothing to foster co-constructive inquiry in a classroom.  After thinking about it more, I would say that I would prefer to be taught in a purely didactic style than a purely power teaching style (it is the lesser of the two evils).  Additionally, I don't think that it's realistic to think that every teacher would be well suited for the cheerleader-style teaching of power teaching, and nor would they want to be.  Although it is important to engage students in the classroom, the chaos that was apparent in the videos that we viewed would be enough to derail the activities in a normal sized classroom of more than 10-15 students. Power teaching seems like an interesting model where you learn by doing (which I strongly favor), however, there must be some balance with note taking, theory, and practice and not just a room full of students clapping, yelling, and mimicking their teacher.  Here, the voice of the students is not heard and learning is self-guided. There was no room for questions nor a format to ask them amidst all of the clapping and patronizing done by the teacher.  This model is counter productive in fostering creativity and co-constructive dialogue in the classroom and, I would say, is a step backwards from the didactic model that we seem to criticize so often for the same reasons.

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