Teaching by numbers

imagesCAN4AHK2Dogme has been mentioned many times on this blog. I may not be willing to go the whole hog on this but I do feel that there can be too many materials in our classrooms at times and that a little more direct f2f communication is better than searching for the next youtube clip or expensive flashcards to show on the IWB.

Jim Scrivener and Adrian Underhill have been grappling with the same issue over the past year.  Given the quality and range of materials teachers now have to work with, they too argue for a little less reliance on these materials and more focus on the students and their learning. They advocate what they call Demand-High Teaching. As a simple example they point out that, when correcting, rather than searching for the correct answer, ticking it off and moving on, we should spend more time asking everyones opinion as to what is correct, discusing why certain options might not be correct etc. In other words, working a bit more on teaching, getting more out of the process. Perhaps a lot of what we learn on courses, and even what we do in class in terms of manipulating material etc is a little like painting by numbers. We follow the steps, colour in all the options carefully, hit all the correct buttons, but maybe miss a little flash, a spark of creativity. Something sound can be produced, maybe even worth hanging on the wall … but is it possible to paint without the numbers and achieve something more pleasing and worth-while?

If you haven’t been in contact with Demand-High Teaching before this article by Scrivener and Underhill in the Guardian is a good introduction. For more detail and discussion follow their blog : follow the posts chronologically for an idea of how their thoughts are developing.


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