One teaching style fits all? I don’t think so.

Posted by Marjan, Uncategorized on Apr 19, 2016

The more we read and watch in this module, the more I find myself thinking that most authors and presenters focus on one way of teaching to the exclusion of another which they allude to as bad teaching. In this task, Michael Pershan describes the Khan Academy videos as ‘old-fashioned’ explain and then practice. He has a point but isn’t practice also necessary to gain factual knowledge as discussed by Willingham in task 3? I agree with his criticism that the videos just show you a method but I think there can be a place for that. I used them myself but more as a refresher. I like his ideas on how to improve the videos by connecting older concepts to new ones, not presenting the solution immediately and showing more than one solution. The video’s I used myself already suggested you pause and work something out for yourself before looking at the solution so maybe some of these ideas have been implemented. But I don’t think I would only want to learn through these videos so I would not want to teach only around something like the Khan Academy.

I think that both the video and article concentrate on conceptual learning and stress the importance of independent learning. I find this idea fascinating because I think it is an important lifeskill: to keep on learning throughout life. What really stood out for me in the article was the discussion that an investigation is not the same as an inquiry. That in an investigation, students may be asked to discover some concept but that the problem, method and outcome are still proscribed. And what if they fail to discover the correct relationship or concept, does the teacher fall back on telling them? Whilst an inquiry as Andrew Blair describes it, encourages the students to decide themselves on the structure of the inquiry, to ask questions and decide what knowledge they require and plan the activities they will undertake. That the answer from a ‘discovery’ lesson could be an effective prompt for an inquiry lesson, they are flipped around? Before reading this article, I expected to plan lessons with investigations. Now I want to find out more about inquiry teaching because I do think I will need more understanding of how to incorporate this in lessons before I would attempt it myself. And how much do you need to prepare students for this type of lesson? It turns out there is a whole website dedicated to inquiry teaching.

Both video and article suggest to allow and encourage students to ‘struggle’ with conceptual problems, to stand back and not interfere too quickly. I agree but it’s not as easy as you think, as our inclination is to help someone who is struggling. I have experienced this in the classroom and it takes conscious effort not to step in too soon but it’s great to see a pupil work something out for themselves.


  1. jat32
    23 April 2016

    I agree with you about the challenge of standing back and watching people struggle. It strikes me that questioning (admittedly probably with some direction) which suggests other avenues to explore or check may be the way out of this conundrum….but perhaps only when one thinks that such buoyancy aids are absolutely required.

  2. pepsmccrea
    28 April 2016

    Really considered analysis of both the ideas presented, and how they might influence you practice in the future. It’s great to see you grappling with the nuanced yet critical distinctions between investigations and inquiry, and look forward to hearing more as you continue to explore this area.

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