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teaching and learning

June 10, 2007

While watching this Tom Lehrer video in which he parodies the great mathematics teacher who brags of his lucid lectures though others complain about the obscurity of his lectures, I thought of my own attempts to make PowerPoint presentations to explain a point.  How much teaching does the PowerPoint presentation do?  How much to I do?   But more importantly how much learning occurs?   Which brings me the opening of a blog by John Connell in which he asks:

Is the whole process of teaching a paradox? When teachers teach and
learners learn, what is the nature of the causal link between the two,
if any? How does teaching produce learning? Does teaching produce
learning? Is learning merely an accidental consequence of teaching?

These questions capture the point about teaching and learning very well for me because the longer I teach the more I recognize how much more important what the student does in the class is than what I do.  Since there is no necessarily causal relationship between what I do and what my students learn, I think the challenge is to create a learning environment that includes opportunities for the students to learn and evaluate their learning.  I can’t say that I have yet arrived at making my classes this learning rich environment, but I have at least taken a few steps in that direction.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 10, 2007 4:59 pm

    Nicely put!

    I think these questions, and your own, should also lead us to question the notion of a centrally-determined curriculum, or at least of an entirely centrally-determined curriculum. For me, the more scope there is for flexibility, genuinely personal choice and, perhaps, negotiation between teacher and learner in the day to day learning opportunities made available, the better. I raised some of these questions in earlier posts: here and here, for example.

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