Maybe you're a veteran teacher and you want to learn more. Maybe you're a new teacher, or an ed student, and you want to learn a LOT more. Maybe you're a principal and you want to be a good resource for your staff. Maybe you have a high fever and you don't know where you are.
I couldn't say. So, I'm going to load this page with everything I've written, and I'm going to arrange it in what I hope is a logical sequence. I hope to provide a nearly complete teacher preparation program. [I should live so long!] Take whatever you want.
Start with these, if you'd be so kind. They show why the usual teacher prep curriculum is such a big flop, with a capital FLOP, and what a serious curriculum would look like.
Now, please read this. It describes the four main activities of teachers; identifies the knowledge needed to do them well; and presents a logical sequence in which that knowledge--in my opinion---ought to be acquired. It is quite possibly the most amazing thing you've ever read!
Expanded Route to ProficiencyThis document elaborates on each item (knowledge element) identified in the "map" document, above. I will insert hyperlinks to full documents that treat each item---I should live so long! [This doc is not complete.]
Glossary. This document gives pretty full definitions of all of the items in the "Map" and "Expanded Route" documents. It will also have hyperlinks to full documents.
Here are the first documents.
What is knowledge? Well, I guess it's pretty important to know what knowledge is, since that's what you are teaching and what you want your students to get and use.
This next doc builds on the one before. You can know everything there is to know, but if you can't communicate in a way that makes sense to your students' "learning mechanism," you might as well not know anything. What's the most efficient, effective, and clear way to communicate? And in what form can all knowledge---no matter how complex---be communicated. Answer: simple declarative statements: subject ---predicate. Clear communication.
For the past 20 or more years, public education has been debauched, conned, and infected by the most idiotic "philosophy" imaginable-constructivism. Now, the basic idea in constructivism is that knowledge in lectures, demonstrations, books, paintings, conversations, and other media does not automatically become knowledge for a person just by hearing or seeing. The person's learning mechanism (Engelmann and Carnine, Theory of Instruction, 1991) performs logical operations of inductive and deductive inference on the sensory inputs received (e.g., strings of words), and makes sense of these in the form of concepts, rule relationships (propositions), and cognitive routines. This is not a new idea. Constructivists didn't invent it. It's at least 5000 years old.
Apparently unable to control themselves, constructivists took this common sense notion and turned it into a revolution---which like most revolutions, is a disaster. Teachers would no longer TEACH. Oh, no. Now students would INQUIRE and DISCOVER knowledge in math, reading, and science. The teacher would now be a facilitator or coach or "guide on the side." Idiots!! And the result? Several generations of kids who can't read, do math, or know much science.
Borrowing from the work of Englemann and Carnine, here is a short version of how the learning mechanism develops or constructs knowledge. Once you know the steps performed by the learning mechanism to, for example, GET a concept, the smart thing to do is to present information in a way that makes it easy for the learning mechanism to do its stuff.How does the learning mechanism get it?
Here is an example of teaching a sensory concept---triangle. I'll show a procedure and I'll give you information on the principles of design. Later docs give examples of teaching other forms of knowledge, such as abstract concepts, rules/propositions, and routines, and each one will say more about these principles. Procedure for teaching sensory concepts
Most teachers plan instruction on new knowledge (acquisition) only. Few think about fluent use of knowledge, generalization of knowledge to new examples, retention of knowledge, and integration of knowledge elements into larger wholes. Few education perfessers have ever thought of, and certainly have no idea how to work on, fluency, generalization, retention, and integration. The correct words for this are PITIFUL, INEPT, and BOGUS, with a capital BOG.
No wonder kids in school are so SLOW at reading and solving problems; forget everything soon after a course is over; and can't pass state tests that have new text and new problems.
Unless you work on all five phases of learning, instruction is a COMPLETE waste of time. Here's the first doc (a summary) on phases of mastery.
Big ideas. Let's say you're strolling down the boulevard, and some nosy citizen looks at you and says, "Hey! What's the big idea?" You infer that they're referring to your florid haberdashery. You reply, "I do all my shopping in a dumpster behind Mel and Ned's House of Clown. Our motto: All clown all the time."
Now that this nosy citizen gets the big idea, he (or perhaps she; it's getting hard to tell lately) will easily make sense of any other clownish garb with which you bedeck yourself.
"Oh, the clown thing. Right."
Well, the same goes with teaching. Your students will have a much easier time following your lectures and the readings, organizing the materials, and generalizing knowledge to new materials, if they know big ideas that run through the diverse contents of what you say and what they read. Learn all about it here. Please let me know if you can think of ways to improve what you read. Or what I might add.