Task 4 – What experiences can I use in teaching ?

Posted by Ray on Apr 19, 2016

The video critique of the Khan Academy proposed an extension to an idea that I put forward in our discussion for task 3. I’d suggested having plug-ins to the Khan Academy framework so that teachers could use their own materials but still get the benefits of being able to track progress etc. Michael Pershan took this a step further by suggesting that teachers across the globe could provide videos and also suggested that the teaching style should be adapted to align with the methods used in countries that have higher attainment levels. This is a great idea but would take years to implement. The Khan Academy style is to explain how to do something and to then practice repeatedly using that method. The alternative approach, used in countries such as Japan, is to state a problem and then set groups to work on solving that problem. The students are allowed to struggle and share ideas but with a teacher who steps in with hints and guidance at appropriate points. This could be built into the Khan Academy approach by keeping the problem statements, hints and tips, and solutions videos separate and using technology to stop a student from watching a solution until they have tried working on it for themselves. As Michael states, this approach also supports having multiple solutions for the same problem. I have seen the benefits of the struggle and share approach working outside of education. I provided technical and business leadership to offshore vendor resources and was often sent questions that I felt could be answered without input from myself. I’d acknowledge the question and agree to provide the advice within 1 -2 days, knowing that they would then work it out for themselves and maybe ask me to validate their answer. It turned out that they were able to answer more than 95% of their own questions.

The Andrew Blair article proposed that an Enquiry based approach would help students to get a better understanding of a subject. Traditional teaching gives a problem, method and solution whereas Enquiry evolves from that baseline towards students having more input into how they define and explore a concept. I experienced a similar approach in my previous job when using Situational Leadership. The leadership style moves from directing, through coaching and supporting, to delegating. It helps if both parties understand how the leadership support changes over time for a particular task and that different styles will be needed for different tasks, even when the same people are involved.

When I consider how I will be teaching next year, I think that the Situational Leadership style is something that I should be using in the classroom. I also agree with the struggle and share approach but would need to get experience of how to judge the timing and level of intervention so that students do not lose motivation. I think that I’d need a fair amount of teaching experience before being able to meaningfully lead a fully Enquiry based approach or otherwise would want to have an experienced mentor to coach me. I will refer students to the Khan Academy materials but don’t see them as the building blocks for my lessons.


  1. MZwiers
    27 April 2016

    Interesting how you can compare your work experience of Situational Leadership with the enquiry teaching. I also think we would need experience or coaching before being able to use this kind of teaching. And that students would need some kind of introduction as well so that they understand how to become enquiry learners. Just like you point out how both parties needed to understand the approach in the workplace.

  2. Charli
    28 April 2016

    I love that you have the experience of letting people struggle and seeing that they were able to answer it for themselves. I think people, in general not just the education system, have become a bit lazy. Why work out the answer properly on your own when good ol’ Mr Google will have the answer within a few clicks. I agree with the reference to Khan without reliance as well, it’s a good, free resource that everyone with access to a computer can use as long as people don’t become complacent with it.

  3. pepsmccrea
    28 April 2016

    Great to see you building on your thinking from the previous task. You always have a very pragmatic position on things, asking yourself: what can we/I do about this. This is to be applauded. Some really interesting connections being made between coaching and inquiry.

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