Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

The Student As Teacher


  • Please log in to reply
46 replies to this topic

#1 John Simkin

John Simkin

    Super Member

  • Special member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,779 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 06:12 AM

Research has been recently carried out at the United States National Learning Lab in Maine to assess the most effective way that young people can learn. The researchers employed a variety of different teaching methods and then tested the students to find out how much they had learnt. From this the researchers were able to calculate what they called the Average Retention Rate. The results were as follows:

Teacher talking to a class (5%)
Student reading a book (10%)
Student watching an audio visual presentation (20%)
Student watching a teacher demonstration (30%)
Students taking part in a discussion group (50%)
Students involved in an activity that is related to what the teacher wants them to learn (75%)
Students teaching others (90%).

These research findings do not surprise me. I once carried out some research on a group whom I had taught over a period of six years (11 to 17). The information they had retained from their history lessons reflected the findings of US National Learning Lab, in that the most effective learning was related to the amount of active participation from the student.

However, it seems to me that the majority of teachers spend much of their time using teaching methods which, according to US National Learning Lab, are fairly ineffective. I suspect the main reasons for employing traditional instructional methods are as follows: (1) this was the way that the teachers were taught when they were pupils at school; (2) this was the way that teachers were trained to teach; (3) this is the accepted way of teaching amongst colleagues - i.e. peer group pressure; (4) teachers enjoy being performers; (5) the teacher feels more in control of the situation when traditional instructional methods are used.

Tradition is the great enemy of innovation. One of the advantages of using the Internet in the classroom is that it encourages teachers to think again about teaching methods. One of the fears that I have is that teachers producing materials online will attempt to duplicate the methods they use in the classroom.
The idea that students should play an active role in their learning is not a new idea. In the 1960s educationalists like Jerome Bruner argued that people learn best when they learn in an active rather than a passive manner. He used the example of how we learn language. It is claimed that this is the most difficult thing we have to do in our life, yet we learn it so young and so quickly – so easily in fact, that some experts in this field have argued that language is, to a certain extent, an inherited skill.

Bruner argues that the reason we learn language so quickly is due to the method we use. As we are introduced to words, we use them. We test them out. Words immediately became practical. We can quickly see why it helps us to know these words.

This method is very different from the way most subjects are taught at school. The student is usually a passive receptacle trying to take in information that they will need for some test or examination in the future. To complete this task effectively depends on students employing what sociologists have called deferred gratification. This is something that most young people are not very good at. They want their pleasures now, not in the distant future.

In his book, The Process of Education (1960), Bruner argues that it is possible to teach any topic or subject using the same methods that we use when learning language. This involves structuring the material so that the student can test out and use the information in a practical way.

Bruner’s ideas on learning helps to explain why the Learning Lab researchers found that the highest Retention Rate occurred when students were given the opportunity to teach other students. As teachers we have all had the experience of having to teach something we do not know too much about. How quickly we learn when we know that the next day we will be faced by students asking us questions about the material.

It is fairly straightforward to set up situations where students teach other students. For example, the class could be divided into two. Each group is given a different topic to teach. When the material has been prepared the children are paired up with someone from the other group.

Another strategy is to get the students to prepare teaching materials for another class to use. I saw this approach being used successfully by one of our members, Richard Jones-Nerzic, at the International School of Toulouse.

A student in a traditional teaching environment can be very passive or docile but when he or she has to take on the role of teacher and instructor, the student is empowered. The “student as teacher” can prove to be an extremely positive and liberating experience for both the student/teacher and the class that makes up the audience.

Anybody who has read the novel A Kestrel for a Knave (by Barry Hines) or seen the film Kes (directed by Ken Loach) will remember the scene where Billy Casper teaches the rest of the class about kestrels. Billy Casper undergoes a transformation in this scene because probably for the first time in his life he has been given the opportunity to share his knowledge and expertise.

How can we as teachers create similar situation to the “Billy Casper effect” in the classroom? I would like to finish off by looking at one practical example of how it could be done.

The example concerns the subject of the Home Front. During the war the British government was constantly monitoring the success of its various policies concerning the Home Front. The government was also aware of the possibility that it might be necessary to introduce legislation to deal with any emerging problems.

http://www.spartacus...k/2WWhomeAC.htm

The students have to imagine they are living in Britain in December 1941. The students are asked to write a report on one aspect of government policy (evacuation, rationing, refugees, etc.). The web page provides work on a total of 36 different topics, so it should be possible for each student to have a different topic.

Every student has to report back to the class about the topic he or she has investigated. (1) Each student has to provide a report on what has been happening in their assigned area since the outbreak of the war. (2) The student then has to make proposals about the changes they would like to see in government policy. (These proposals are then discussed and voted on by the rest of the class.)

#2 Guest_andy_walker_*

Guest_andy_walker_*
  • Guests

Posted 30 April 2003 - 08:18 AM

I agree with all of this in principle despite the fact that the progressive ideology such an approach is based on does not sit well with the government imposed model of the curriculum and its testing regime.
However is there a danger that students of lower ability will struggle to do much more when "teaching" than to read out copied materials?

#3 Richard Drew

Richard Drew

    Super Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,594 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 08:46 AM

I regularly use the students as teachers with my Y13 Politics class, although as there are only 5 in the class this perhaps makes in practically easier.

pupils are regularly asked to:

~ Work in pairs with resources to prepare one side of a debate on a controversial topic relevant to their study (e.g. are US pressure groups good or bad for democracy?), present their case, listen to their opponents cases and then seek to deconstruct each others' cases. thus pupils are teching themselves and each other.

~ Present essay plans to the rest of the class on the whiteboard

~ Each study a different aspect of a topic (e.g. constitutional powers of the President) and then feedback to the class in turn.

these approaches have worked very well, allowing pupils to take ownership of their learning (and saving precious time in lessons too).

i am a firm believer in the notion that the best way to ensure you understand something is to explain it to someone else, this ensures that you not only have a bank of knowledge but that you genuinely understand the issues and how they interconnect, also once you have done this the understanding tends to stay with you.

I have taken this approach into year 9 where pupils have to research and then give presentations twice in the year: -

~ An aspect of life in victorian society

~ A WW1 battle that involved local regiments (part of our local study)

I have found that very often it is the lower attainers who thrive on the activity the most. they are given the opportunity to take control of their own learning and prove to the class what they can achieve; in order for this to succeed it is important that the topics, resources and instructions are carefully chosen to prompt the desired response from the pupils.



In a similar field i am a great believer in teaching through open questions. In history so much can be made of the enquiring minds and thought processes of students. we ought to spend far more time asking pupils to figure out why event happened and what happened next etc though careful questioning, and the pupils' responses will then teach each other the key understanding.

An example of this would be to teach the Schlieffen Plan through the following method.

Get pupils to study the statistics for the strengths of the 2 alliances at the start of the war. Ask pupils what is of most use to an army seeking a quick victory (more soldiers& weapons), what do you need to win a long war (population, money, production capacity), pupils will then be able to deduce that Germany wanted a quick victory. Pupils then study a map of europe and the 2 alliances. Pupils are asked why Germany has a problem - it is surrounded, making a quick vicotry difficult if it has to split its forces. Now you throw in the one peice of 'teaching' (- Russia historically was slow to mobilise its forces), and ask pupils to generate a plan for germany to win the war.

Every single one of them comes up with the Schlieffen Plan, through their thought processes and responses, pupils are pushing each others' understanding along, and the teacher's role is simply to ask the questions that provoke this pupil led learning.
user posted image

#4 Dan Lyndon

Dan Lyndon

    Super Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,403 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 11:02 AM

Just a quick posting to which I will return later - I am about to teach a yr 10 lesson on the ANC's Defiance Campaign in the 1950s in South Africa - the task is deliberately open -ended, group work with feedback to the whole group as a plenary - they have to devise a campaign against the Aparthied laws under the heading 'Revolution without guns', with guidlines to explain what they do and do not have eg no guns, but mass participation. The follow up lesson will look at the actual Defiance campaign introduced by the ANC and the class will compare their plans to this. I hope that this will work (it has not beeen tried before) and will involve a much more student led interactive lesson than one in which we read through a worksheet on the topic (which I did yesterday - well I was still recovering from my birthday!). I will feedback tonight.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#5 neil mcdonald

neil mcdonald

    Neil McDonald

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,592 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 12:09 PM

I openly support the idea of the teacher being the facilitator of learnign and the student being responsible for the output. I have had students take a leasson in sections - each group not only teaching theuir subject but also preparing handouts and producing portfolios of work to support their ideas. I think the learning stems from a number of issues - having students believe more than they first though possible is a key criteria - showing them the success by giving them the responsibility allows the teacher to raise the bar to a level that cannot be brought out by the normal teaching mehtods because the students are the main motivating force of learning.

With the advent of greater on-line learnign I think that this type of elarning style may become more open to teachers across the world. I think that the issue over the regimentation of the NC does mean that learning styles like this are limited in opportunity but with greater freedom that nedd not be the case.
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

#6 Andrew Field

Andrew Field

    Andrew

  • Admin
  • 6,946 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 03:11 PM

There is no doubt that students learn best when they have to teach materials to others. It was only since I have started teaching that I've even begun to comprehend history fully. I may have studied Nazi Germany at GCSE, A-Level and Degree Level, but in front of Year 9s asking you various questions is where you really find out how well you understand the material.

The techniques John suggested are alluded to in the Key Stage 3 strategy - here the starter activities, or the wider range of suggested activities give teachers the potential to use more active techniques. It obviously doesn't free teachers from the constraints of the National Curriculum, but it does encourage more active techniques in the classroom. We can be negative about the constraints, but this recent strategy is surely going in the right direction!

In no way a prime example, but today I started teaching the 'Images of an Age' topic. We began with the Millennium Portrait of the Royal Family. After projecting this onto the board (OHT) I gave students five minutes to prepare a presentation about the portrait, the only requirement being that they had to mention our key terms of 'image' and 'perspective'. Three students delivered their opinions to the rest of the class and the presentations and subsequent questions allowed far more effective learning to take place. I could have left the room.

I still believe fundamentally in the need to provide a wide range of lessons and teaching techniques - and the student as teacher is one of these key areas. Obviously if we did this all the time it would lose its effectiveness - the fact that the students had completed an essay assessment on Cromwell previously made this lesson all the more effective. It was something totally different.

I guess you can also turn this topic on its head - as a teacher I'm always a student, learning and developing techniques. Let's hope that continues. :unsure:


Generate your own versions of my games, quizzes and eLearning activities: ContentGenerator.net

#7 neil mcdonald

neil mcdonald

    Neil McDonald

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,592 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 03:37 PM

I agree with Andrews point on the need to make sure that this kind of technique is over used. I think that as an assessment opportunity or as a major project it can have real impact on their learning. However much the same can be said by many other means of teaching. Surely in the end the role of the Teacher is one of the key components to the success of the project/teaching style. The support needed for this and other ventures makes the difference. Those who feel confident in this and will work to support the students will be able to see the benefits of the teaching methods, however those who feel unsure of the style might suffer and therefore the project will not do as well.
Bernard Woolley: Have the countries in alphabetical order? Oh no, we can't do that, we'd put Iraq next to Iran.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bernard Woolley: That's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I give confidential security briefings. You leak. He has been charged under section 2a of the Official Secrets Act.

#8 Dan Lyndon

Dan Lyndon

    Super Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,403 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 04:42 PM

as a teacher I'm always a student, learning and developing techniques.

ABSOLUTELY


I have got home now and had time to reflect on the lesson that I mentioned earlier in the thread about the ANC Defiance campaign. Unfortunately, as is the nature of teaching, not everything went quite to plan - I couldn't plan for the fact that the boys had just had a PSHE lesson on teenage pregnancy, which left them rather 'animated' (understatement of the century). However, the essence of the lesson worked well - all students, including a group of SEN / EAL boys working with a support teacher, were able to make a contribution to the lesson and there were some very interesting suggestions made. The groups that worked most effectively were the ones who had helped (taught?) each other to plan their campaign and had really begun to develop their ideas.

One of the important things for me was to reflect on how this lesson can be improved the next time I teach it (tomorrow), and I aim to guide the students a bit more in the direction that I feel they need to go. I also think more time was needed for an effective plenary to bring together the lesson (but dealing with lots of silly behaviour meant going 15 mins in to the lunch hour in anycase!).

As a general point, I think that most of us agree that variety is one of the keys to success and that experimentation with different teaching and learning styles is vitally important. However, experimenting comes with self - confidence and as a manager / leader that is one of my responsibilities to help the rest of my department to have the confidence to experiment. Unfortunately in this day of monitoring, assessment, target setting etc sometimes the 'powers that be' seem to have lost sight of this and have taken away the opportunities for this to happen. Although personally I am quite impressed with what I have learned so far from the Key Stage 3 strategy.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#9 Carole Faithorn

Carole Faithorn

    Carole

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 5,279 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 06:23 PM

I think Dan is right to highlight the fact that lack of confidence is one of the factors which inhibits the adoption of less tried and tested methods; lack of leadership from a Head of Dept/Faculty is also significant.

The pressure to achieve the best possible results may also mean that teachers are reluctant to hand responsibility for their learning over to students. If things 'go wrong' then valuable time may well have been lost - particularly for examination classes.

If I can quote the case of my own daughter, rather than my own teaching experience. As an A Level History Student members of her class were each allocated a topic on Stalinist Russia to research. They were then to prepare a presentation using OHPs, a summary handout for the rest of the class and a short introduction to a discussion of a central question connected with the topic. "Though I says it as shouldn't" her preparation was meticulous (helped no doubt by her access to my own library of books - few were available in her own school library - and by access to the Internet at home at a time when this was not very common among her peers). However the presentations of others in the class were not necessarily of the same standard and I know that my daughter felt that whilst she had learned far more about Collectivisation than she would have done if she had relied on more passive methods of learning she was angry and disappointed that she then had to do a great deal of work to 'plug the gaps' left by other students. The whole process had also taken a lot longer than it would have done if the teacher had been the presenter of the material.

I throw this into the discussion not because I challenge the statistics given in John's initial post, but as an 'antidote' (perhaps?) to the view which appears to be the accepted one so far.

Thoughts?

#10 Richard Jones-Nerzic

Richard Jones-Nerzic

    Long-term Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 510 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 06:40 PM

Another strategy is to get the students to prepare teaching materials for another class to use. I saw this approach being used successfully by one of our members, Richard Jones-Nerzic, at the International School of Toulouse.

The assignment John refers to is online on the IST Humanities Website.

However, I can claim no credit for the idea! The assignment is straight out of the brilliant 'Think Through History' series, Changing Minds Chapter 6. Y8 students produce a booklet intended for primary school pupils to understand the English Reformation. In order to simplify (teach), the Y8 student has to really understand, what is afterall, a very complex topic.

What makes it special at the IST is that the Y8 students actually know the Y5 students, because we are in the same building. I take it a bit further by having the Y5 students actually assess the work. For the Y5 teacher it becomes part of a weeks worth of 'literacy hours'. We have a special joint session where the Y8 work is returned 'marked' by the Y5s. Its great to see the Y5s correct spelling, moan about font size and colours, the use of images etc. In 2001, Mr Spartacus visited the school and presented certificates to the
winners. I don't think John was aware his photo was on our site!

The only other 'innovative' aspect about the assignment is that I use it as an ICT lesson to teach booklet making with MS Publisher and then how to turn a Publisher document into HTML.

This is where the possibility of the Internet comes into play. Students who write in exercise books, write for their teachers. Students who produce content for the web, have a different sense of audience. What makes it different is that it is real. They produce materials for other students, for their family to see and whoever happens to be visiting. (You, if you happened to click on the above links) This is why 80% of the IST History website is student work. But I'm going off on something different here...
All that is necessary for the forces of evil to win in the world is for enough good men to do nothing.
Edmund Burke


European School Brussels III
International School History

#11 Dan Lyndon

Dan Lyndon

    Super Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,403 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 07:28 PM

The pressure to achieve the best possible results may also mean that teachers are reluctant to hand responsibility for their learning over to students.

I also know that in many cases in my lessons I use 'teacher led' learning as a form of classroom management - the difficulties I had today, albeit based on the impact of the previous lesson, may have been controlled slightly more effectively by this approach, but I am not sure if the learning would have been any better.

In response to Richard's comments, having had a quick look at the websites and the work produced by the students I think that this demonstrates the fantastic opportunities afforded by this style of learning in conjunction with ICT. The quality of work was very impressive, but equally impressive was that it was achieved by year 8 students working with year 5. I am just starting to work on some videoconferencing ideas which hopefully could have a similar outcome.

Edited by danlyndon, 30 April 2003 - 07:40 PM.

Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com

#12 Norman

Norman

    Member

  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 10 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 09:15 PM

There's little doubt that getting students to teach others is the best way for them to learn, but I do feel that much depends on the basic literacy standards of the students. I notice that Andrew mentions a contribution from some SENs students who had added support, but where basic literacy levels are very low and where in class SENs support is only available to the very weakest, this student as 'teacher' method is very difficult in practice. I have a YR8 middle set of 29 children (set 3 of 5) with 18 SENs students in it, many with EBD as well as SLD/MLD, (this combined with most of the children having reading ages of below 10!) I'd love to try this approach with them... so if anyone has got some suggestions as to suitable material.

#13 Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew

    Stephen

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2,071 posts

Posted 30 April 2003 - 10:00 PM

Student led learning is clearly a very positive thing, and I totally concur with prvious comments made about how it can strongly facilitate progress in understanding that often outstrips that possible in other methods.

However I am drawn to comments made by both Carole Faithorn (on the problem of students who do not rise sufficiently to the challenge and damage the learning of others) and by Richard Drew (on the need for direction and control of resources). Both of these are vital considerations in how to deliver this valid learning technique.

If the consensus of opinion and understanding on this issue is clearly with John Simkin's original post in the discussion then what we need to consider is how to allow this to be delivered in the most effective way. Clearly John's lesson on the Spartacus site about the Home Front is a very good example of how to approach the problems involved, and focusses directly on solving the issues raised by Richard Drew. Students have access to the resources they need for the project work and presentation preparation. They are directed on what to produce and are easily led to the required information. In a sense this tackles the problem of resources and focus by controlling it. I believe this also tackles the issue raised by Carole Faithorn about the problem of students failiing to meet the basic requirements of the task and so damaging the learning of others. I belive this is a totally valid point that Carole raises, and as teachers we need to be fully aware of it when we set out work using this technique.

Poor student presentations come from work that is unstructured. Giving students responsibility for their learning, and the learning of others, should not be seen as the opportunity for the teacher to pass up their own role in the process. Direction and facilitation are the key. With a set of groups or individuals preparing work the teacher must make sure that all can access the tasks and resources needed. This is our role in the process. In addition clear and structured instructions / planning sheets must be provided to allow the students to create work and organise their presentations.

If this is all done, and the teacher supports the students in every way possible then the positive outcomes alluded to by John Simkin will occur.

I am also drawn to the comments of John Simkin and other contributors about the fact that often teachers will avoid the student led learning approach as it makes it harder to control the class. This is a totally valid and reflective point to make. How many of us have said things like, "I am not doing that work with that class because it will be a total disaster". I know that I have, and continue to do so. This is reflected in the comments about the straightjacket of the NC and references to the eternal pressure for results.

This makes me think that using more student led approaches to learning requires confidence in the delivery skills of the teacher and the responses of the students. Therefore to impliment the strategy of student led learning teachers need to build up confidence in this area. Try small chunks. Set the work as homework projects over time where the students all do the same thing before feeding it back to the class. This means that in the initial stages of delivering these new ideas for learning, it does not matter for the rest of the class if one of the students fails to meet the required standards due to lack of application to the task. Make it easy for the students to succeed by really structuring the work so that they almost cannot fail to get it right. Raise the profile of the task by getting the librarian involved in setting aside an area in the library where specific resources for the task can be found. Provide weblinks to specific information so that the students don't waste time searching for it. Get them to put the work in a booklet of your design to make sure it is well presented. Once you have this basis of success in independent learning you can move into the more complex stuff in the classroom building on early success.

Innovation is a funny thing in the modern world of teaching. On the one had Ofsted and HMI will praise you to the hilt for being interesting, dynamic and innovative in engaging your students. However if it goes wrong you are left feeling you have wasted time trying to be clever. I always try to learn from experiences, as Andrew Field comments, and genuinely believe in the challenges not problems adage.

And the classes where I say "I am not doing that work with that class because it will be a total disaster"? We do it anyway because it is a challenge and not a problem. :)
"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell

#14 John Simkin

John Simkin

    Super Member

  • Special member
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,779 posts

Posted 01 May 2003 - 09:55 AM

Andy Walker

“I agree with all of this in principle despite the fact that the progressive ideology such an approach is based on does not sit well with the government imposed model of the curriculum and its testing regime.”

You are right to suggest that a National Curriculum does pose problems for the active learning model. The sales of the Tressell teaching packages such as Into the Unknown, Attack on the Somme, Wagons West, etc. declined rapidly after the introduction of the NC. This was understandable because departments had previously spent a whole term using these packages. This was clearly not possible with the NC.

Attempts were made to produce new active learning materials to fit in with the NC but the problem was that the psychology of the teacher had now changed. They were now much more attracted to the blockbuster textbook produced by the multinational publishers. Although teachers were highly critical of these books at INSET meetings, etc. they continued to use them because they give them a sense of security. Every year the Ofsted report on history teaching complains that the vast majority of lessons that their inspectors observe are based on the students working from textbooks. However, can they expect anything else? Why should teachers take risks in this situation? Their view is “I might be marked down as boring and uninspiring but I can’t fail completely if I follow the instructions given in a standard textbook that has sold thousands of copies”.

This said, I do not agree that active learning teaching methods cannot be produced to deliver the NC or satisfy its testing regime. Remember, the National Learning Lab research suggested that these methods were more effective than traditional teaching methods in helping students retain information.

“However, is there a danger that students of lower ability will struggle to do much more when "teaching" than to read out copied materials?

Of course there is? This is a problem with any teaching method. However, I believe that active learning methods are more effective at dealing with this problem.

The Home Front simulation has 36 different roles. It would have been possible to have ranked those in order of difficulty. The teacher could then have used that information when assigning the tasks to the students. This would be a good example of effective differentiation in the classroom.

The task given to the students in the Home Front simulation was divided into two sections. There is no doubt that for the first task the student could just copy out the material on the website. This was not true of the second task. That involved formulating proposals to be discussed by the rest of the class. This involved doing something practical with the material. It was this that turned them into active learners.

Richard Drew

“I regularly use the students as teachers with my Y13 Politics class, although as there are only 5 in the class this perhaps makes in practically easier.”

Active learning methods are indeed easier to use with small and older classes. However, this in itself raises problems. I will return to this point when answering the point made by Carole Faithorn.

“I have found that very often it is the lower attainers who thrive on the activity the most. They are given the opportunity to take control of their own learning and prove to the class what they can achieve; in order for this to succeed it is important that the topics, resources and instructions are carefully chosen to prompt the desired response from the pupils.”

This has been my experience as well. It is a natural reaction when faced with a low achiever to think in terms of finding easier tasks for them to do. In fact, research shows that one of the main reasons students underachieve is because of the tasks being set are not challenging enough.

The problem is also caused by the unwillingness of the student to defer gratification. The task for the teacher is therefore to develop meaningful and enjoyable activities for the student to do. Then the student does not have to deter gratification. That is what Richard managed to do and therefore he got the desired result.

Dan Lyndon

Dan’s contributions was like watching a fly on the wall documentary. It, more than anything else, changed the nature of this seminar. It was the one thing that could not have taken place in a conventional classroom/lecture hall.

The most striking thing about Dan’s contribution concerned the way he analysed the lesson. It is this ability to reflect on our experiences that makes the difference between an effective and ineffective teacher. I could not agree more with his final statement.

“As a general point, I think that most of us agree that variety is one of the keys to success and that experimentation with different teaching and learning styles is vitally important. However, experimenting comes with self-confidence and as a manager/leader that is one of my responsibilities to help the rest of my department to have the confidence to experiment. Unfortunately in this day of monitoring, assessment, target setting etc sometimes the 'powers that be' seem to have lost sight of this and have taken away the opportunities for this to happen. Although personally I am quite impressed with what I have learned so far from the Key Stage 3 strategy.”

Notice that Dan ends up on a positive note. The truly effective teacher must always remain positive with a focus on the possibilities that any situation gives them. As Friedrich Nietzsche once said: “What does not kill me makes me stronger.”

Neil McDonald

“I openly support the idea of the teacher being the facilitator of learning and the student being responsible for the output… With the advent of greater online learning I think that this type of learning style may become more open to teachers across the world.”

This is a key point. I first saw the Internet in its infancy. I spent a couple of hours searching for materials on the book I was writing at the time. I was completely frustrated by the experience and, to my shame, I dismissed it as an educational tool.

It was not until the early months of 1997 that I looked at the Internet again. The experience was completely different. By this time people (mainly university teachers in America) had started to develop good websites. What is more, search-machines had found effective ways of helping you find it.

At the time I was working on a simulation for my Y10 class on the votes for women debate that took place in East Grinstead just before the First World War. Each person was playing the role of a different character in the town who held strong views on the subject. The web did not provide me with any information on the topic (that all came from the local newspapers stored at Lewes Record Office) but it did give me ideas on how this material could find a wider audience. The economics of publishing meant that it could not appear in a book, but it could appear on a website. All I had to do was to teach myself how to do it.

It is the economics of the Internet that makes it so exciting. In the past educators were restrained by factors such as production costs and the numbers of people who would buy the books. It was therefore a risky proposition to publish materials for a market that you did not know existed. Textbooks tended to be new versions of past books that had been successful. The Internet allows educators to experiment. In doing so online educators get the opportunity to shape what goes on in the classroom. Not only in their own country (the vast majority of the visitors to my website come from outside Britain) but in the whole world.

Andrew Field

“I guess you can also turn this topic on its head - as a teacher I'm always a student, learning and developing techniques.”

As the work on your website clearly shows. However, I wonder how true this is of most teachers. As a provider of a great deal of INSET over the years, I have come across a great deal of resistance to new learning. That has also been my experience in the schools where I have worked. I suspect there is a psychological reason for this. Teaching is a very stressful job. Over the first few years teachers develop strategies to deal with this stress. If successful, they are then very reluctant to change these strategies. They might be boring teachers but they are teachers that are surviving.

I have run several INSET sessions on active learning. The situation is always the same. A few teachers are already using these strategies and are enthusiastic about this approach. The vast majority are not openly hostile but raise questions about its feasibility. These questions nearly always revolve around the issue of classroom control. When you deconstruct what they are saying they are particularly concerned about being in the presence of a classroom of excited learners.

As one experienced teacher said to me: “I prefer closing the curtains, putting on the video, and sending them to sleep.”

Carole Faithorn

“My daughter felt that whilst she had learned far more about Collectivisation than she would have done if she had relied on more passive methods of learning she was angry and disappointed that she then had to do a great deal of work to 'plug the gaps' left by other students. The whole process had also taken a lot longer than it would have done if the teacher had been the presenter of the material.”

This is an important point. I know when I was doing an MA in education at Sussex University we had a tutor whose main strategy was to give us photocopies of articles on education. We would all be asked to give a brief talk on the article at the next seminar. I was very enthusiastic about this at first but this soon changed. It soon became clear that the tutor had not read the articles and was unable or unwilling to raise important points during the feedback. The articles were not connected and the other students soon made it clear that they were not terribly interested in the feedback of others. However, unlike in schools, it was difficult for the students to shape the situation. The tutor was obviously not interested in the teaching aspect of the job and was more concerned with the book he was writing at the time (he is an internationally regarded expert on the sociology of education).

The important point made in Kes is that the reason Billy Casper is motivated to give his lesson on the kestrel is because of the attitude of his teacher, Mr. Farthing (note the symbolism of the name). Unfortunately, I was being taught by Mr. Pound.

For this teaching method to work it is not enough to just provide the structure. How you react to the student’s contribution is also vitally important. In his book, From Communication to Curriculum, Douglas Barnes has a lot to say about this issue. He makes the point that students are de-motivated if they feel that in the classroom discussion they are only filling in gaps left by the teacher. Students soon become aware that they are not involved in a truly open debate where their contributions are not valued.

Richard Jones-Nerzic

I had the honour to watch one of the lessons that was part of the English Reformation Booklet Project. One of the features of this lesson was the interest that the Y8 students showed in the opinions of the Y5 students. To more honest, I was shocked by this. After the lesson I interviewed several of the Y8 students and I became convinced this was genuine. However, the school had obviously developed a school ethos where the opinions of the students mattered. I am not sure it would have worked so well in the vast majority of schools. However, it is still worth doing.

If there are any PGCE tutors, educational researchers, LEA advisers, Ofsted inspectors, DfES officials, etc., reading this, I urge them to pay a visit to the International School of Toulouse. It will show you what you can achieve when you supply schools with the right technology and training.

Norman

“There's little doubt that getting students to teach others is the best way for them to learn, but I do feel that much depends on the basic literacy standards of the students.”

True but this is the case with traditional methods. However, as Richard Drew points out, the method works well with “low attainers”. I have already pointed out some of the reasons for this. Another factory concerns the delivery of the material. We have all had articulate students that find it difficult to express themselves on paper. How successful would Billy Casper’s talk on kestrels have been if he had to read it out from a text that he had written earlier.

Stephen Drew

I agree with everything you say. An excellent account of how the effective teacher works. It should be printed out and a copy given to every PGCE student.

#15 Dan Lyndon

Dan Lyndon

    Super Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,403 posts

Posted 01 May 2003 - 04:32 PM

I have now planned to follow up the lesson by giving the students an opportunity for their own reflection - they need to evaluate their own campaign and then make a judgement about how most people in South Africa would feel about their campaign. We will then look at the actual events of the Defiance Campaign and follow the same evaluation process.
Hopefully the lessons will not be quite as disrupted as they have been over the last two days, but they probably will be! I'll just keep on smiling though and think about Nietzsche.
Until the lion has a historian of his own, the tale of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.
comptonhistory.com
blackhistory4schools.com




1 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 1 guests, 0 anonymous users