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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Fall 2015, the Sabbaticalization: Days Fifty-Eight to Sixty-Two »

October 18, 2015


James Goodman

Brilliant. Thanks for this. Had I seen this sooner I would not have wasted yesterday morning arguing about that stupid NYT piece on and off FB. I would have simply shared your post, as I have been doing all morning. James Goodman, History and Creative Writing, Rutgers University, Newark.

Leigh Johnson

So true.

James Rovira

Most intelligent article about pedagogy that I've read in quite some time that illustrates why national discourse about pedagogy isn't productive.

Fie Upon This Quiet Life

haha! Yes. It's true. There's no silver bullet from one class to the next. Everyone's entitled to their opinions, but holy hell, there's a lot more nuance to teaching than anyone (other than teachers) would believe.

I have had some colleagues try to convince me of their efficacy with their particular techniques. But for me, being able to read the room, get to know students, and being able to improvise when necessary have been the key tools in my tool box. Adapting to whatever you've got in the classroom, for me, is the most important thing.


*Cough*. Good points, but for a *complete* version of the essay, I would add a reference to the Hawthorne Effect.

In schools, trying *anything* new has a measurable positive benefit -- even if the new pedagogy method is actually worse than the old one. Why? It shows interest, it causes everyone to get excited. This has actually shown up over and over and over again in studies of new educational methods -- the new method practically *always* appears to be better than the old method. Even if the new method is actually the method of 5 years ago. It's the novelty which makes it better, not the actual method.

Anyway, I thought you might find this useful.


Thank you for pointing out what should be obvious! (By the way, it was an unexpected surprise when this showed up in my Facebook feed. I miss having you as a colleague--hope all is well in B-land!)

Tony Waters

Along with the Hawthore Effect, I would add Campbell's Law

"The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."


Great piece. I think there are definitely valid generalizations about how not to teach though!

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