Blended Learning, Domestic, Education Quality, Elementary / Primary / Junior, Flipped Classrooms, High school / Secondary 2, Open Source Education, Opinion, Required, School teachers, Startups, Students, Technology - Written by on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 6:00 - 1 Comment

The “Mathlash”: Mathmeticians Strike Back Against Silicon Valley’s Foray Into Math Edu

EdSurge writes a post exploring the angst that some math educators have toward Khan Academy.  Their term: “Mathlash.”

The allegations suggest that Sal Khan’s lessons are not so helpful because they follow a rote model of mathematics rather than a real, live discussion with human beings. The article is worth a read. Here’s an excerpt:

Some teachers have been stung by the notion that Khan–a guy in his pajamas who doesn’t seem to give a wit about decades of pedagogical research–is teaching online. Others are distressed that when he gives away his lessons for free, no one else will be able to make a living selling their more carefully constructed curricula. (Mathalicious’s Ani has a foot in this camp.)

Still others (including both Ani and Meyer) grind their teeth at Khan’s here’s-how-you-solve-it approach to math. “This paint-by-numbers method of instruction emphasizes procedures–how to do math–but ignores the conceptual understanding that’s central to authentic learning: what math means. At its core, this is a function of ineffective instruction, which to a large degree is related to ineffective content,” writes Ani. “This paint-by-numbers method of instruction emphasizes procedures but ignores the conceptual understanding.

Meyer takes the argument a step further, contending that most edtech tools take a “just solve it” approach to math that is fundamentally incompatible with a more experiential approach. He writes: “The argument that these innovations are all supplements to one another, and all of them to a teacher, and that none are meant as a complete solution is a common one in [Silicon Valley]. But I think it is a mistake to assume that the different definitions of mathematics promoted by each of these different innovations will all harmonize with one another.”

Part of the confusion stems from uncertainty about the purpose of education. Most people would agree we don’t simply want children to succeed at taking tests. (Even on this point, however, some contend that test scores– such as 8th grade math scores–are a good predictor of later success, notes Harvard’s Roland Fryer).

Most of us also want students to be creative, curious, and ready to learn new skills no matter what direction their lives take them. That doesn’t happen in every classroom: “The reality is we only need Khan style edu to outrun the 50% of teachers who are just horrible (so we can increase class size), scare 40% of them to work harder using Khan in the new bigger classes, and reward the last 10% with sizable pay raises,” contends Morgan Warstler on Meyer’s blog.

Finally at the core of the debate is a deep tension that all Internet denizens should recognize: Who’s in charge? Should educators, deeply versed in pedagogical research and countless years of feet-in-the-classroom, be calling the shots? Who gave the newcomers, typically entrepreneurs, many whom last set foot in class when they were students, the right to frame education?

via: Co-Exist

1 Comment

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B M Agrawal
Feb 25, 2012 10:34

E-teaching/guidance is mode of delivery. For basic teaching instincts, one need not be computer professional. second thing is level of learning. it is a common experience academics are rarely very good teacher at base level. Teachers at university level thinks it is derogatory for them to teach at primary level, but when the question of authority comes they become very knowledgeable.
As a matter of fact mind set for Maths and language need to be done in early age. Unfortunately at this tender age we take education very casually and by and large we feel they can be taught by any body. Probably it for this reason in India where it is common practice that , parents take care of their kids at school level, learners are faring well despite the fact they are not having very modern (e.g. e-learning) facilities.

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