Page 22 of 22 FirstFirst ... 12202122
Results 316 to 328 of 328

Thread: Chris Woodhead= Cnut

  1. #316
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    Can't argue with that

  2. #317

    Default

    Disagree on some counts, m_b. Conceptual understanding is not necessary. Certainly as far as maths is concerned, procedural knowledge is generally all that is taught, precisely because of the assessment system and its incentives. Of course, a student who understands more, ceteris paribus, will do better than one who doesn't. But that's obvious. The point is to examine what the effects of a culture of performativity are on teaching and learning.

    And it isn't that the tests aren't objective, or that they are set by institutions for their own purposes, but that the tests don't really test anything. They are just a signal, whose function is to supply institutional sweeties. Imagine an institution (I'm thinking of a specific example, but one that I think is representative), an SFC, successful in the league tables: what does this imply WRT T&L for their maths A level programme? Strong institutional pressure is needed to maintain league table parity (of course). So the programme selects on the basis of probable success. No B at GCSE, no place on the programme. In terms of outcome, As and Bs are all that counts. So the whole of the programme revolves around what is on the exam. No conceptual understanding, only the transmission of procedural knowledge. How to pass the exam -- that's what the students learn. Mathematics qua mathematics is tangentially related at best. The teachers are very clear about this, all the way up to the HoD and the principal. Even the students pressure the teachers -- they don't want to fail their exams and cock up their uni applications.

    And when they get to university, and expect to be able to deploy this knowledge, what then? Well, if the subject is "mathematically demanding" (e.g., STEM), then most programmes start by teaching their students maths. The maths that they didn't learn at college, because the college was too busy teaching them how to pass the A Level.

  3. #318
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    Disagree on some counts, m_b. Conceptual understanding is not necessary. Certainly as far as maths is concerned, procedural knowledge is generally all that is taught, precisely because of the assessment system and its incentives. Of course, a student who understands more, ceteris paribus, will do better than one who doesn't. But that's obvious. The point is to examine what the effects of a culture of performativity are on teaching and learning.

    And it isn't that the tests aren't objective, or that they are set by institutions for their own purposes, but that the tests don't really test anything. They are just a signal, whose function is to supply institutional sweeties. Imagine an institution (I'm thinking of a specific example, but one that I think is representative), an SFC, successful in the league tables: what does this imply WRT T&L for their maths A level programme? Strong institutional pressure is needed to maintain league table parity (of course). So the programme selects on the basis of probable success. No B at GCSE, no place on the programme. In terms of outcome, As and Bs are all that counts. So the whole of the programme revolves around what is on the exam. No conceptual understanding, only the transmission of procedural knowledge. How to pass the exam -- that's what the students learn. Mathematics qua mathematics is tangentially related at best. The teachers are very clear about this, all the way up to the HoD and the principal. Even the students pressure the teachers -- they don't want to fail their exams and cock up their uni applications.

    And when they get to university, and expect to be able to deploy this knowledge, what then? Well, if the subject is "mathematically demanding" (e.g., STEM), then most programmes start by teaching their students maths. The maths that they didn't learn at college, because the college was too busy teaching them how to pass the A Level.
    Hmm yes, the procedural focus may persist through much of degree level too - a friend of mine lectures Maths at Leeds Uni and says that his students have not much more to do than put things through various sausage machines.

    An emphasis on the procedural is also required to get students to over-perform too, to push a C or B student up a grade with the exam in sight. I recognise this from KS2, for sure.

    Strong conceptual understanding reaps rewards - for one, students become accustomed to what knowing something more deeply actually feels like - but I guess that teaching has to be similarly configured throughout their education: one process-orientated prof too many and they might lose this desire.

    What brings about a change of focus to mere process? = Exam pressures...

    What can be done?*

    Edit: *Universities should decide the content of GCSE/A-Level exams.
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 27-05-2009 at 07:40 PM.

  4. #319

    Default

    I don't think that the content of exams is the problem, but rather the fact of exams within the education system. Slow, student-centred learning is what promotes understanding -- making mistakes, understanding your mistakes...

    Agree re universities and sausage machines. I took (and paid for, damn it) a couple of MSc modules this year, and one was basically an introduction to a software package. No conceptual knowledge at all. Also interesting in so far as the heterogeneity of the class mitigated against deep understanding. No one really wanted to know anything about statistics, other than what they had to know, and even maths teachers struggled with very basic statistical ideas. I can even recall sitting next to a head teacher who at one point asked me to explain what "correlation" meant.

  5. #320
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by vimothy View Post
    I don't think that the content of exams is the problem, but rather the fact of exams within the education system.
    My knee-jerk response would be to say 'So what's the alternative?' I'm guessing that different educational systems test to varying degrees; I wonder if there are any European countries that don't use any kind of formal examination at all.

    The mere existence of exams should not dictate that teaching proceed at a particular pace. Examinations can be delayed or brought forward: for instance, students in France retake years, redoublent, until they are ready to take the Bac. There were noises made recently in the UK about allowing students to pass papers at different rates (or am I imagining this?)

    I still like the idea of there being a test of one's general understanding of a subject, of having to bring everything to bear at one moment in time. There is symbolic meaning to the traditional examination too: the candidate must take what they have learnt and use it to survive on their own; this is character-building.

  6. #321

    Default

    Not the mere existence of exams, but their whole existence -- exams not as something understood in isolation, but as components in a circuit.

  7. #322
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    leicester
    Posts
    1,756

    Default

    Edit: *Universities should decide the content of GCSE/A-Level exams.
    a bit elitist, no?

    the reason exams play such an important role is because schools are judged on exam results.

  8. #323
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by don_quixote View Post
    a bit elitist, no?

    the reason exams play such an important role is because schools are judged on exam results.
    Why is universities designing secondary school leaving examinations elitist?

    Exams were about before league tables AFAIK

  9. #324
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    leicester
    Posts
    1,756

    Default

    because not all school leavers go to university?

    which universities would get to decide? cambridge, loughborough or teesside?

  10. #325
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,518

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by don_quixote View Post
    because not all school leavers go to university?

    which universities would get to decide? cambridge, loughborough or teesside?
    I still don't see how it would be 'elitist' - I think this is a non-sequitur here. After all, the papers are almost certainly already written by experts, no?

    I'm assuming that the universities would collaborate, as every one of them would receive former examinees.

    It's not a new idea, by any means.

    - A-Levels would be more closely connected to the next educational stage in the subject (helping to prevent Vimothy's 'you do A-Level Maths and then, once you get to Uni, you're taught Maths' problem)
    - A-Levels would be less susceptible to dumbing down as a) the content is wholly determined by the experts in the field b) there is no longer a choice of papers (I'm assuming that there would no longer be different examining boards) of varying difficulty with, often enough, the easiest papers being chosen to improve results (no buyer's market for the schools any more) c) content less susceptible to change on governmental whim
    Last edited by mixed_biscuits; 27-05-2009 at 11:19 PM.

  11. #326
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    London
    Posts
    378

    Default

    Edit:The thread is dead anyway
    Last edited by comelately; 01-06-2009 at 03:06 PM. Reason: Dead thread

  12. #327
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    leicester
    Posts
    1,756

    Default

    just to point out that chris woodhead is a cunt again. nothing he's said. he's just a cunt.

  13. #328
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    5,524

    Default

    it's good to know some things never change

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •