Marking essays and poisoning dogs

The Wing to Heaven

This psychological experiment asked participants to judge the following actions.

(1) Stealing a towel from a hotel
(2) Keeping a dime you find on the ground
(3) Poisoning a barking dog

They had to give each action a mark out of 10 depending on how immoral the action was, on a scale where 1 is not particularly bad or wrong and 10 is extremely evil.

A second group were asked to do the same, but they were given the following three actions to judge.

(1”) Testifying falsely for pay
(2”) Using guns on striking workers
(3”) Poisoning a barking dog

I am sure you can guess the point of this. Item (3) and item (3”) are identical, and yet the two groups consistently differ on their ratings of these items. The latter group judge the action to be less evil than the former group. The reason is not hard to…

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When the face-to-face conversation IS the innovation

Interesting post from The Glint.

The Glint Blog

Last week, the Center on Innovations in Learning (CIL) hosted its second annual “Conversations with Innovators”

Socrates, ready for conversation. Socrates, ready for conversation.

at Temple University.  This invited event is intentionally kept small and intimate to enable participants, largely representing state departments of education and regional comprehensive centers, to engage in a dialogue with selected experts at the leading edge of educational innovation.  

Last year was CIL’s first time running this event, and our evaluation feedback reinforced how thankful participants were to engage in a more “low-tech” and personal way: a real dialogue about weighty and important topics related to innovation. There is so much web-based information out there (including this site), and virtual forms of professional development are gaining ground.  In fact, just yesterday I was involved in a meeting (virtually, naturally), when a colleague outside CIL described in-person meetings as “dinosaurs”…i.e., relics from another time, now replaced by more convenient and less expensive…

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Teaching for Understanding

Filling the pail

We all want our students to understand what they learn, right? I can’t think of any teacher that does not. However, the idea of teaching for understanding can be problematic and lead us into some serious, and highly popular, misconceptions.

In this post, I will outline what understanding actually is before explaining the best way that we can promote it.

Rote learning

Many teachers are keen to avoid ‘rote’ learning. This is when students memorise facts and procedures without really understanding why they are doing it. It is possible to do this, especially if you practice something a lot like a mathematical procedure. However, memorising facts that have no meaning to you is extraordinarily difficult. This is why memory champions who can memorise the order of a deck of cards, for instance, tend to impose a spurious meaning on it. They may imagine walking through a house and seeing a…

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