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Dr. Tae on Teaching and Learning

Summary #

Dr. Tae is a physicist who advocates for cultural changes to the way that schools operate to make them useful for learning.

(Video: Vimeo)

Commentary #

I found myself vigorously agreeing with Dr. Tae's presentation. I was particularly surprised by the comment by Lawrence Krauss (emphasis added):

According to a presentation Krauss delivered to the Canadian Association of Physicists' Congress Tuesday, 90 per cent of U.S. middle school science teachers have no post-secondary education in science themselves.

Of course, a lack of qualifications is irrelevant when all you need are certifications.

The humanities are sidelined as well (via Robert):

I know one of your arguments is that not every place should try to do everything. Let other institutions have great programs in classics or theater arts, you say; we will focus on preparing students for jobs in the real world. Well, I hope I've just shown you that the real world is pretty fickle about what it wants. The best way for people to be prepared for the inevitable shock of change is to be as broadly educated as possible, because today's backwater is often tomorrow's hot field.

In the course of my discussions, some people have raised the following objections to Dr. Tae's approach. Here are some of the more common reactions:

How did Dr. Tae grade the students from his "workshop" class?

I don't know, but I can ask him.

I should point out that his experiment was geared at demonstrating a new model of education—one in which grades are not emphasized because competence and mastery are the goals. Nonetheless, the question is valid, because we do not have many institutions that support his proposed model of education (although compare his model to the Yeshiva system).

Isn't Dr. Tae's model of education very expensive?

Perhaps the "workshop" aspect, but definitely not the "distributed teaching" aspect. The latter might reduce the former if "real" teaching and learning were sufficiently commonplace.

Don't some subjects have to be taught in a lecture format?

I'm not sure why this would be the case. People learn an amazing variety of information and skills "outside" of the classroom. I say "outside" to highlight the artificial nature of the boundary of where teaching / learning occurs.

Meta #

I'm going to contact Dr. Tae in the next few days, so feel free to post questions for him in the comments below (deadline: Friday, 2010-12-10). I'll write a separate post if Dr. Tae responds.

See Also #