Sunday, January 29, 2012

Anything wrong with this?

Just watched a lecture from Will Richardson at Millersville University on technology's impact on today's education and had to post something. 
The one part of the lecture that caught my ear was the idea of letting students use the internet during tests. I, for one, am on board with that! I'm not anti-teachers (obviously) or anti-education in any way. I agree with what he said about the way the world is changing is causing education to change with it. He made a great point when he asked the crowd who was going to buy an encyclopedia this year. When I was in school, that was the #1 source to find information. When I had to write a paper, I read through an encyclopedia first and then found other books in the library. In college, the first thing I did was look online. Times have changed, so lets change with them.
One thing that came to mind was a video that Dr. Heitmann actually showed me (and it still might be on his website) called the 15-minute university. Its a comedy routine explaining what the average graduate remembers 5 years after they graduate (in math, its the Pythagorean Theorem, which is true). Most students don't remember 95% of what they learned in their 12 years of schooling 3 months after they graduate. If they need it, they're going to look it up. Why should we make students memorize formulas or properties when they are literally seconds away.
Again, I reiterate that I'm not saying we shouldn't teach anymore. I believe we should continue to teach our curriculii (??) and make it meaningful to our students. But there really is no point to making them memorize everything (because if they're interested, they'll remember it anyway). I've taught proofs in geometry for the past five years and I used to make my students remember all 70 of the theorems we learned thoughout the course. I later decided to make them remember just the important ones. Now I make them remember none of them. They are allowed to use a list of theorems during proof tests because its a waste of their time to memorize them. During lessons and through homework, it works out that they end up learning the important ones anyway, so it all works out in the end. They are not missing out on anything and they are not leaving my classroom without knowing that vertical angles are congruent or without knowing the transitive property. They have a full understanding of these topics, I just don't require them to sit down and stress out about them. I help them gain the appropriate knowledge through my coursework.
The question that comes to my mind is: how can I allow my students to use their notes/internet/whatever they want during tests, but still make sure they are able to pass the keystone/pssa exam? Unfortunately (as much as I hate to use this as a reason) these tests are the only thing that justifies not allowing students to do research during tests and projects. I hate using state exams as a reason for doing anything in my classroom, but it is what it is.
Feel free to disagree/agree with me

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