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24 Sep 2005 - 17:15 this thread about the power of persistent repetition to change things. Here it is. The NAAR is the National Alliance for Autism Research, where Catherine was on the board for a number of years.
For me this blog isn't only about saving my own kid or Carolyn's kid or ktm readers' kids....politics takes all kinds of forms, and there's a distinction between power & influence (though I'm not the one to theorize what it is). One thing I've learned about politics is that effective politicians, inside any organization, don't usually attack something head-on (though this is my inclination). They....form alliances, make horse trades, frame issues in ways that work for them, set agendas, and sell, sell, sell. I think that's what we have to do. Because we have kids in the school system, we are, ourselves, inside the organization. For most of us, our most effective tack will be to engage in organizational politics, if that's the term. This is why I do a lot of 'visual' politicking. I carry my Russian or Singapore math books with me to every meeting; they are major conversation starters. I continually press the issue of Singapore's kids being best, and/or of KIPP's 8th graders having a higher percent passage rate on the Regents A. Spaced repetition works. At NAAR I used spaced repetition all the time. I remember back when I first joined the organization, I was reading a book called BRAIN REPAIR. BRAIN REPAIR, at that time, was far too radical an idea for the people who had founded NAAR. For a variety of reasons, all realistic and many having to do with the politics of autism science & NIH funding, they were willing to speak at most of treatment and prevention. The word 'cure' wasn't even included in the original NAAR literature. So I was out there on my own, freelancing the message 'research for a cure.' People used to look at me like I was mad. Early on, I suggested NAAR sponsor a conference on brain repair. Here's how those suggestions went. I'd say, 'Why don't we sponsor a conference on brain repair.' Whoever I was talking to would look at me blankly, then return to whatever it was he/she had been talking about before I'd said, 'Why don't we sponsor a conference on brain repair.' I kept inserting the words 'brain repair' into conversation anyway. About 4 or 5 years into my stint at NAAR, I discovered that NAAR was sponsoring a conference in FL on....guess what? Brain repair. Nobody even remembered I'd spent 2 years hawking the idea.(End thought from Carolyn: I think this also demonstrates the value of a good, catchy, repeatable marketing hook such as brain repair). Back to main page.
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Yes, definitely--catchy phrases are critically important. You can get them lodged in people's heads the same way TWO-TWO-TWO MINTS IN ONE remains lodged in my head to this day. -- CatherineJohnson - 24 Sep 2005
This is why we need to all practice saying DOMAIN KNOWLEDGE at the drop of a hat. -- CatherineJohnson - 24 Sep 2005
"Yes, definitely--catchy phrases are critically important." So, so true. The anti-knowledge brigade has all the catchy phrases -- phrases like "sage on the stage, guide on the side," "chalk and talk," "drill and kill" "teach the whole child," "teach the child, not the subject," "less is more," "up is down," "freedom is slavery"... There is nothing comparable for those who value expository instruction and domain knowledge. The anti-knowledge brigade (followers of the regnant progressive/constructivist ed cult) is good at employing manipulative language. Some of the words deployed by the brigade to disparage the notion of imparting knowledge are "lecture", "active" and "passive". "Lecture" has the negative connotation of droning on without regard for the audience's (in this case the pupils') level of understanding and its capacity to follow while the captive audience sits by "passively". No teacher worth anything would teach that way. (The cultists forget that listening attentively to explicit instruction is being active, but the cultists claim to have a monopoly on "active". To the cultists it means "constructing" one's own knowledge ex nihilo). But the disparagement of any explicit instruction by labeling it "lecture" is so strong that explicit instruction is proscribed in many places. Good math instruction should consist of modeling (interactive modeling if appropriate) followed by guided practice, independent practice and review. I coined the impressive, albeit cumbersome, phrase "empathetic, interactive expository instruction" as a counterpoint to the dreaded "lecture". Alas, it can't compete with the catchiness of "talk and chalk" or "drill and kill"). (Now I have to put my phrase in rhyme form). Here is some constructivist mumbo-jumbo: From Sage on the Stage to Guide on the Side Alison King 1993 College Teaching v41 no1 p30-35 Students learn by incorporating understanding of the subject into their existing knowledge base, and so must take an active role rather than being passively taught. The professor's job is therefore to facilitate learning rather than lecture. This article discusses several active-learning techniques that instructors can use to help students construct knowledge, such as think-pair-share, guided reciprocal peer questioning, jigsaw, and co-op co-op. Instructivist -- CharlesH - 24 Sep 2005
I like "Anything But Knowledge". I mentioned before that I told a couple of people on our school committee that they should hand out the Core Knowledge series, "What Your First (Second, Third, etc.) grader needs to know", and tell parents that this is NOT the education their child will receive. They might make comments about the content, but the problem is NOT which content is chosen, it is that it has content. The parents can then use the books to make up the difference at home. "Fuzzy Math" still puts them on the defensive. When the math teacher at the open house asks if the parents have any questions, you can ask: "Quick, what is 7 times 8?" How about: "Do you really call this algebra?" Two education professors are 100 miles apart and start driving towards each other at noon. One is traveling at 100 miles per hour and the other is traveling at 125 miles per hour. At what time should they put on the brakes to avoid hitting each other? They have to discover the answer while they are driving. This is fun. I bet we could start a list. -- SteveH - 25 Sep 2005