Tuesday 23 June 2009


From The Aus:

Mr Kelly, whose firm has been involved in the design of collaborative learning centres at the University of Melbourne's engineering faculty and at the Sir Gustav Nossal select entry school in Melbourne's southeast, said the idea of the stimulus package was sound.

He said the template classrooms were based on the traditional top-down teaching system, with the teacher lecturing to a seated class, whereas more innovative designs featured circular tables or more flexible spatial arrangements that allowed children to interact and learn by participation. Mr Kelly acknowledged that such designs required more space per pupil, but said research proved they gave children a better education.

"Collaborative learning centres"? Where do they think up these names? It's bad enough when our school starts talking about being a "learning community". What a crock.

I'm sure there are some subjects where a collaborative approach works well. Drawing on my very distant school experience, I remember it working well in subjects like chemistry and biology where we carried out shared experiments either in pairs or groups of 4. However, collaboration only takes you so far in high school. I also remember having to collaborative assessments, such as researching and writing a history paper, and what ended up happening is that 5 people sat around and traded gossip whilst one did the work!

I'm also sure that collaboration would work very well where students have strong self-discipline that drives them to actually tackle the task at hand, rather than loafing around having a gas-bag. In undisciplined environments, where you have a reasonable proportion of trouble makers, bone heads and blatherers, I'm sure it is a recipe for utter, shambolic disaster.

I always preferred silence in the classroom, as it allowed me to concentrate on what the teacher was saying, or to concentrate on the work that we had been set to perform. Chit-chat is distracting, even if carried on in a low voice. Even the passing of notes is distracting. How are you supposed to take in information if there is a high level of background noise and distraction? If a school is near a road, the teachers complain about the noise from passing cars, saying it makes teaching difficult. Well, if car noise is a problem, why is child noise not?

We hear about more and more kids being diagnosed with ADD and all its variants. If that is the case, why would we want to introduce an environment that is even more distracting than a quiet, well structured one? Surely the best way to deal with kids that are bouncing off the walls is to put them in a calm, structured and non-distractive environment, rather than one that will set them off like an epileptic exposed to disco lights?


Anonymous said...

What is of far greater concern is education models have to change to counter the wii-generation. Gen x and part of gen y were still fairly good readers, and read enough as kids to establish the neural pathways to entrench it as a learning method. Kids coming through these days have spent so much time with a game controler and flashing images in front of them that they are seriously concerned how to deliver learning content to them in a tertiary setting.

Imagine getting your Maths 150 in either PS2 or XBOX format!


wv:chilin - as in what are we going to do with them.

Boy on a bike said...

We have one old games console, and it has been broken for at least 2 years. We also have no plans whatsover to get it fixed or replaced.

I have one very old computer game on my PC that Junior only gets a few hours on over the weekend - and only then if it is pouring with rain and he has tidied his room.

If he wants to play a game, he can pick up his tennis racket.

1735099 said...

Whether we like it or not the world has changed and it won't go back to how it was when you & I were at school.
Teachers have to react to this - silence in the classroom may work in some situations - but there is a place for collaboration. A rifle section is a very good example of effective collaboration.
This is interesting - http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/GREMIN.html

Boy on a bike said...

Junior is a great talker. As the old saying goes, he could talk the leg off a wooden chair. His teachers give him rave reviews for topics where he has to talk.

Trouble is, he doesn't have an "off" button. I'll give you one recent example as to why I like silence.

His performance in maths has been rubbish. J sat him down the other night and took him through his most recent topic. Everytime he tried to flap his gums, she told him to shut up.

Test results went from 12% to 86%, just like that. He does not learn effectively if his lips are moving. We need to do everything possible to remove the need for him to yap whilst learning - then he learns very rapidly, and very comprehensively. He's very smart, but very gobby.

If I recall, a section also communicates mainly by hand signals!

Boy on a bike said...

PS - kids are like the AN/PRC-25. They can recieve info, or they can transmit it - but they can't do both at once!

kae said...

They can cost a bomb, too.

WV: medorat


daddy dave said...

This is why we need market forces operating in education.
How do private schools teach their students? They have to get results or they go bust. Do they use all these new techniques? I think not.