[IAEP] What is a Lesson Plan?

Antoine van Gelder antoine at g7.org.za
Wed Jul 9 13:14:40 CEST 2008

On 09 Jul 2008, at 04:24, Edward Cherlin wrote:

> On Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 4:35 AM, Antoine van Gelder  
> <antoine at g7.org.za> wrote:
> [snip]
>> * By far the largest part of the work was spent dismantling  
>> curricula into
>> its component concepts and figuring out how those concepts related  
>> to each
>> other.
> Yes, that is indeed the key point. With the background of
> Constructivist child development research plus the awesome power of
> software (Awww!) it becomes a considerably more fraught enterprise.
> The whole modern curriculum grew out of medieval roots in ways that
> have nothing to do with the connections of ideas and everything to do
> with who published what when. We are not supposed to teach any math
> significantly later in origin than the 17th century to secondary
> students, no matter how easy it is to learn and no matter how much it
> would help.
> When we know the fundamental ideas of a branch of mathematics or any
> of the sciences and can express them in various "age-appropriate and
> intellectually honest" ways (Bruner), we are nevertheless not allowed
> to present them before the age at which conventional wisdom says a
> subject can be started. We can explain the fundamental concepts of the
> calculus (direction of curves, maxima and minima, area under a curve,
> and others) visually to preschool children using no symbols and
> performing no calculations. We could add to that understanding year by
> year as the children get to be able to handle more advanced geometry,
> arithmetic, algebra, and proofs, so that when the time came to teach
> full formal calculus, we could do the current first-year course in a
> month or less. But no chance.
> Similarly with computers, where society will not permit Boolean
> algebra to be taught in school, so that students coming to Boolean
> logic in programming have no foundation for understanding it.

As those generous, well-meaning folk keep telling me:

   "While the bills are being paid by folk who have a demand for  
    trained workers..."

   (subtext) "and as long as we continue to complain about how no
    one in our enterprises are able to innovate instead of considering
    that our demand for vocationally trained workers might have
    something to do with it!"

...it is likely that this state of affairs will continue into the  
foreseeable future!

It is fortunate that there are more forces at work on our planet than  
the Fortune 499 and a 1/2!

>> This is important to understand because I think a lot of folk have
>> have the intuition [3] that the hard work is coding up the  
>> simulation system
>> or the simulations themselves but it's not.
> This delusion is not specific to education. Coding is the easiest part
> of any problem. Understanding what the problem is ils always much
> harder, but industry long ago settled on a metric (lines of code) that
> makes the real work invisible.


>> The really really hard part of
>> the work is getting over the realization that you, yourself,  
>> actually don't
>> understand the curricula nearly as well as you thought you did,  
>> figuring out
>> how the curriculum translates to a simulation, how to represent it  
>> in such a
>> way that it can still run on something smaller than a 2048  
>> processor SGI
>> cluster and how to integrate peacefully with sensitivities to the  
>> fact that
>> there are limited teaching hours available each semester!
> There is reason to think that the proper sequencing and relation of
> ideas in a curriculum could make it much easier to get through with
> adequate understanding. There is reason to think that going for fairly
> full understanding slows down individual topics at first but speeds up
> the overall process dramatically once students have had the experience
> of understanding something, and know what they are trying to do.


...and as long as we are testing for knowledge on the basis of  
understanding of individual topics rather than the subject as a whole...

That said, on an individual level I don't think any teacher has ever  
gotten into trouble for focusing on foundations in their classroom.

This conflict only seems to arise when we want to scale into the  
larger school-system as (maybe-not-so-well-trained) teachers who are  
scared of teaching foundations find allies in administrators who (not- 
being-teachers-themselves) do not understand that there is no conflict.

As outsiders we do not have the power to change the testing system,  
retrain teachers or hold administrators accountable to educational  
metrics but what TheAwesomePowerOfSoftware(tm) does provide us with is  
an unprecedented opportunity to impact the structure of information  
flows [1]

CC-licensed dynamic media curricula based on a holistic [2] view of  
knowledge served to the Internet population on Moodle [3] servers  

> We have had our educational Copernicus, and we may now be in the age
> of Tartaglia, Gilbert, Galileo, Huygens, Kepler, des Cartes, Leibniz,
> Hooke, and so on, but our Newton has not yet manifested. Perhaps she
> will appear among our schoolchildren, who will in due course have a
> chance to grow up with fewer of the prejudices that were foisted on
> most of us.

I like your analogy.

  -- a


[1] http://www.sustainabilityinstitute.org/pubs/Leverage_Points.pdf

[2] Folk can steal important words and use them to market junk but the  
original need still remains and will still have to be addressed if we  
want our problems solved.

[3] Please, someone, tell South Africa that the world does not need  
another Moodle clone! Because Moodle. Yes Moodle. It rocks!

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