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Fellow teachers and learners, you're probably familiar with Stigler and Hiebert's book The Teaching Gap.  I read it several years ago, re-read it more recently, and ... I agree with the author of this post.  There's much groundwork to be done in most schools before lesson study is even  possible, let alone productive.

Thoughts?

http://christopherdanielson.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/the-teaching-gap/
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Justin Schwamm's profile photoRachel Ash's profile photo
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I haven't read it.  But I am intrigued by the--generally unsurprising--fact that most readers have only focused on the end of the book and have forgotten the central message.  Especially since the central message seems to be that we need to rethink our entire paradigm.  I am a fan of that message, myself.
 
+Rachel Ash - It's definitely worth reading.  Ironically, I was also guilty as charged the first time I read it in 2004 or so. I wanted to set up a lesson-study process (hard to do when you are the only teacher of a given subject in a school!) but didn't want to do the hard work of challenging my own assumptions about what teaching and learning should be.  Then, when I re-read the book a few years later, I paid much more attention to the "first two-thirds" of the book ... but by then it was becoming clear to me that yesterday's tools (textbooks, paper-based instruction) simply aren't effective for today's learners.  So I was a lot more open to rethinking the entire paradigm, which really is the heart of Stigler and Hiebert's message.  They talk at length about how the American math curriculum (their area of focus) is broad and superficial, while other nations reduce the number of concepts but encourage their students to develop deep mastery.
 
The thing that a lot of people assume is that the learners are changing--that it's technology's fault we have to change.  I think technology makes changing more feasible and easier, but I think learners themselves have not changed so much as our understanding of what learning is and how learning happens has changed.  In previous years, we were just okay with accepting that students who can't learn in the factory model are "not smart" and should go out and do a job, but students who could learn that way are smart and should go on to college.  In years previous to that, it was widely accepted that only certain kids even go to school past elementary or middle school, so again the filtering of assumption avoided the question of what is the best method of teaching all kinds of learners.

Technology has changed things in one way.  Now teachers are not a fount of information that is hard to come by via other means.  So now, kids can learn everything they want to know online, if they are inclined, and teachers only have one thing to offer that the internet doesn't: teaching.  Actual guidance of learning.  It's not the learners that have changed but the availability of information.  With the role of "fount of knowledge" stripped away, teachers are now facing a situation that many never considered--one that requires them to aid learning and deep thinking instead of listing facts.
 
+Rachel Ash - Interesting point!  So technology has opened up learning to a whole bunch of people (and many types of learners) who were not a good fit for the factory-model system ... and now they're descending on that system, demanding more and different education than it was ever designed to deliver.  I'll have to think about that; it's really stretching my paradigms here!

Meanwhile, as you said, the role of the teacher is changing in profound ways.  We're not the "fount of information" ... and that is really traumatic for a lot of kind, sweet people who went into education because they liked providing factual information to young people.  I don't think we can, or should, forget about their pain and struggles as they try to adapt to this unexpected new world they find themselves in.

Have you seen this thread about +Scott McLeod 's post? https://plus.google.com/u/0/102340336817210055995/posts/iJLZdzhHyJu  And the related one that +William Emeny started about engagement and learning here? https://plus.google.com/u/0/111288446773159834123/posts/ZtA21o65f2s
Lots of great conversations about engagement and learning today! 
 
I agree that it can be traumatic, and I honestly feel for those teachers because the entire paradigm has shifted for them.  It is hard to see the world change when you like it the way it is, and I don't mean that to be flippant in any way--it's honestly hard.  

To scrap everything you know takes a huge amount of bravery.
 
+Rachel Ash - I agree!  It's extraordinarily traumatic to have the world change on you.  It's one thing when you see it coming (as I think you and I and +Robert Patrick and lots of our friends do), but even that can be a shock.  To be blindsided by change, though, just when everything seemed to be "perfect!"  Now, that is hard and painful.  And I think we need to remember that, and advocate for those colleagues of ours, who need all the support they can get in this rapidly-changing world even if (maybe especially if) we don't agree with their old paradigms.

What do you think?
 
I often argue for them, for patience with them, etc.  There is a huge degree of snobbery that comes up in the edtech circles that really gets to me.  We've discussed that before, and compared exploring technology uses on your own like making recipes and the need to create recipe books for other teachers who are not unwilling, just not sure how to cook for themselves.  I think that people who don't know how to move forward need guidance and tolerance.  As long as we are continuing to innovate and train new teachers in innovation, why can't we be patient with those who really just can't find reason in themselves to do the same?  Eventually the new generation will take over and the innovation will be the norm.  And there will be new innovators.  And perhaps we will then be those who are tolerated.  I can only hope that at that point, the innovators treat us with the same respect.
 
+Rachel Ash - Yes, there is a sad degree of edtech snobbery in certain circles, isn't there?  I suppose it, too, is partially a defense mechanism; it's hard to be a pioneer, especially when others don't see the value of what you're pioneering.  So I suppose it's natural, though sad, to respond with snobbery and sarcasm.  I try not to, and I also advocate for patience for the less-tech-savvy too.

In any case, I love your point about recipe books and the reminder that if we give humility and patience now, we'll be more likely to receive it, in turn, when we're old and crabby.  "You know, back in my day, when everything was on the Internet ... you kids get OFF MY LAWN!" :-)
 
+Laura Gibbs - Here's the thread about The Teaching Gap that I referred to in that comment this morning.  I found my copy the other day while looking for something else, and I've now re-read the parts that Danielson refers to in the link.  Oh, my goodness!  I need to start a new thread, but what jumped out is this: Teaching is a cultural activity and is governed, like all cultural activities, by unconsciously held scripts.

That's why reforms (the kinds that try to change bits and pieces, or the kinds that appeal to purely rational motivators) fail.  They don't take into account the powerful, unconscious, systemic scripts that guide teachers, learners, parents, administrators, and everyone else.

The only way to change the system is to address the scripts, but it's hard to do that when things are going "well" or even "OK."

What do you think?
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