After reading articles about flipped classrooms, reverse instruction, gamification and play, I feel that these are all band-aids at best. My gut is telling me that the real issue is still being avoided. I think the real issue deals with critically looking at the standards and content we are being asked to teach the students and ask, “Is it relevant?” Is the content we are teaching still relevant to the needs of the students or should we be engaging in conversation about the standards and debating their relevancy? Perhaps an overhaul of the education system in terms of its’ goals for student learning is needed.
I challenge the idea of a flipped classroom or reverse instruction because I am constantly reading and hearing about how we as educators need to be lecturing less and have our students apply their understandings to tasks, which are relevant, challenging and real-world applicable. All flipped classrooms and reverse instruction seem to do is instead of make the students listen to lectures inside the classroom, they now have to spend extra time and listen to the lecture at home. Isn’t this just simple geography? In one of the articles, the teacher describes reverse instruction as, “instead of lecturing about polynomials and exponents during class time – and then giving his young charges 30 problems to work on at home – Fisch has flipped the sequence. He’s recorded his lectures on video and uploaded them to YouTube for his 28 students to watch at home. Then, in class, he works with students as they solve problems and experiment with the concepts. Lectures at night, “homework” during the day. Call it the Fisch Flip.” https://connectedprincipals.com/archives/1534 We can call it whatever we want, but the students are still being lectured; just at home. If we focus our attention on questioning the relevancy of our current standards, and reducing the amount of content required to teach, could we not be able to combine some direct instruction with authentic application in one class?
In the Economist article, one teacher says, “You can follow the progress of each child—where she started, how she progressed, where she got stuck and “unstuck” (as Ms Thordarson likes to put it). You can also view the progress of the entire class. And you could aggregate the information of all the classes taught by one teacher, of an entire school or even district, with data covering a whole year.” Sept 17, 2011. I would challenge this teacher and ask, “What if the time spent tracking progress on student work on Khan Academy was re-directed towards personally immersing oneself in the content she is asked to teach in order to explore the purpose and relevancy for teaching it? What if this teacher spent that time determining real-world applications for the content and then creating authentic tasks for the students to engage with in class?
I think technology has the power to be an incredible resource in learning, but only if we begin to critically examine what we are being asked to teach the students in terms of current relevance and future application. I will even go as far to say that in a world where my daughters are growing up amidst blogging, posting, spell check, grammar check and publishing, is learning about a compound sentence or even spelling relevant to her? Is this what she should be learning? Just saying this makes me want to throw up because deep down I totally believe it is important and how can spelling not be important. As I swallow my barf, I am at least trying to be open to looking at what knowledge is relevant despite how I may feel about it. What skills and understandings does the next generation really need? Once we focus in on what is important, we can then more effectively use technology to deepen our understandings.