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Re: [xmca] Direct Instruction: observations at Djarragun college, Cape York, Australia
Actually, I did read all the material you posted--when you posted it. I thought about it for a few days too before trying to reply. Not sure if you actually READ what I wrote, Bill--but perhaps we just disagree about what constitutes READING!
I'm certainly not conceding you anything. I'm also not advocating sophisticated techniques. Like you (and like Marx), I believe teaching is merely another form of labor. But it's not unskilled labor, and what I see on those clips is unskilled labor.
South Korea has fifty million people. Our literacy is second to none--we are the most literate nation on earth. For a while, this was attributed to rote techniques similar to DI, until classroom observations and "problem solving tests" showed that actually Korean classrooms are much further from rote techniques than American ones.
Obama and Duncan like to credit Korean parents, and of course so do the pro-dictatorship parties here, because they hate our (now semi-legal) teachers union and because they think that when you flatter parents they will vote for you.
The "sophistication" of teaching here is not "scaled up". It was accumulated the hard way, and it is diachronic rather than synchronic. Like France and Russia and most civilized nations (but unlike the USA) every teacher is a civil servant and enjoys the pension benefits, holidays, and salaries that come with that. So the average length of service of a teacher in the USA is something like four years or less. The average length of service of a teacher in South Korea is more like four decades.
"That we, the free learning sophisticated are somewhat repelled by the crudity and authoritarianism of rote and checkout. That feeling operates strongly at our emotional level
and so we prefer to "look away" at this crudity that does work and pursue our more sophisticated learning methods. This applied to me, at least."
It didn't't apply to me. I am perfectly unsentimental; my objection to the crudity and authoritarianism of rote and check are based entirely on the mediocrity of the results that I see in the posted data.
"One thing that I notice most people agree on is that all form of talent or genius do require the learner to do a lot of boring repetition. eg. Mozart took 10 years, from 5-15, before he could be regarded as a genius. All athletes do mind numbing boring practice to reach Olympic level, etc. I think in observing DI we are just observing such repetition in crude form."
There is a widely cited statistic that mastery of anything requires about ten thousand hours, plus or minus five thousand. I am not sure about this: it seems more like a definition of what people accept as mastery in a given field rather than the objective statement it pretends to be. But if it is true than it is clear evidence in favor of what we do in Korea (that is, provide teachers the respect and the pay they require to stay on the job for decades) rather than in favor of crash training programmes like DI.
"How do you propose to scale these sophisticated methods?"
I wasn't talking about a sophisticated method. All we did was to use computer software to examine the actual phonological data that perfectly workaday Korean teachers judgments are based on.
We found them well founded, but only if you accept that they are based on sensitive responsiveness to intra-individual variation and not if you think they are based on some kind of objective standard. It is exactly what you would expect in any highly skilled performance--enormous responsiveness to individual variability.
"In DI the students are consumers and they are being force fed education.
That is certainly one way to look at it. I just loved it when Chomsky
critiqued Skinner even though I didn't understand Chomsky I knew that
Skinner was so boring and dehumanising. But that was when I was
"progressive" and young and now I'm older and more experienced in the
realities of disadvantage."
Not sure to what extent my personal experience is relevant here--I suppose it might be. But I'm afraid you haven't got me at all. I found Chomsky boring and dehumanising. I don't remember much Skinner, but my mother did try to raise me in a Skinner box (I think she just didn't like changing diapers) .I was pretty jaundiced and crusty in my educational views when I was young. Now that I am old, I find myself less experienced than ever.
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
> --- On Mon, 5/7/12, Bill Kerr <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> From: Bill Kerr <email@example.com>
> Subject: Re: [xmca] Direct Instruction: observations at Djarragun college,
> Cape York, Australia
> To: "eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> Date: Monday, May 7, 2012, 7:27 AM
> This paper appears to provide a comprehensive overview of the theory and
> practice of DI and also includes a response to criticisms (27pp)
> I think that Engelmann is incorrect to criticise other theories of
> education so trenchantly but what he has done brilliantly is develop one
> practice of basic literacy / maths education with almost fail proof rigour.
> Some other theories and practices do work IMO (eg. Papert's constructionism
> is one I have worked with for years) but the problem with them in practice
> is that they don't scale for all learners because they require fairly high
> degrees of teacher expertise.
> Given that we have a society in which the highly skilled mathematicians and
> physicists are more likely to end up programming economic models for
> Goldmann Sachs than teaching in primary school then Direct Instruction is
> the best bet since it doesn't require deep thinking teachers for it to
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