November 18, 2013

"What do you think about the idea of the 'flipped classroom'..."

"... where homework consists of lectures that were typically given during class time, and in-class time is used for hands-on projects?"

Lectures... hands-on projects... don't people learn by reading anymore?

Let's say there were 2 schools: Reading School and No Reading School. In Reading School, the homework is to read, and in the classroom, there is discussion of the readings, led by a teacher who lectures and facilitates discussion. (This is what traditional law school is like, and what I've been used to for 30+ years.) In No Reading School, homework is to watch a video of your teacher lecturing, and in the classroom, you do some sort of activity.

Which school would you want your child to go to? I suspect the "flipped classroom" is a nice way to refer to a school experience for children who are not expected to handle reading. Am I wrong?

83 comments:

Lucien said...

I think the answer depends on subject matter and level of sophistication.

Also, having some things done in class and in real time may keep students from resorting to on-line resources, and discussions with classmates as sources of their answers.

Gahrie said...

First...I am a high school History teacher, and taught middle school for a decade.

Second...very few kids today read anything...even kids who like to read. (We've actually spent years teaching kids how to skim and find the answers without reading) I assign reading from the textbook as homework, but I assume that no one reads it when lesson planning.

Third...if I was given a population of students willing to do the reading etc at home, I would love to work in a flipped classroom. The problem is, many students won't, and some students can't, do the required work.

Carol said...

I dunno, I don't have kids, but when I was a student I hated all the teaching fads, watching "film strips" and doing "projects." I liked listening to teachers talk, because there was such a dearth of sane adults in my life.

And I wanted to learn all the stuff real students before me had studied, like History, Geography, Algebra, Science and stuff. I had a visceral dislike of everything that was supposed to cater to indifference.

Bob R said...

No. People (at least the vast majority of them) don't learn by reading. Why do you think that nothing comes from a manual anymore? Because most people can't read a manual and learn how to do anything. Maybe students in law schools and Ph.D. programs can learn by reading, but (I speak from experience) not undergraduates at UW or VT.

Lord Ben said...

My initial impression is that the idea of familiarizing yourself with a subject THEN having a classroom discussion on it is a better way of doing it than being introduced to a subject in a classroom and then having to learn the details of it outside of school.

The reading/watching/listening aspect to me isn't as important as in what order you're doing it on your own VS being instructed by an expert.

Using a reading example: Would you rather hear an expert lecture of the Franco-Prussian War and then take questions (assuming you don't know much to start with) and then go read the Wikipedia article about it or would you rather get a basic understanding first so when you have the expert you can ask more detailed questions and avoid the basic stuff.

Freeman Hunt said...

In flipped law school, you make paper mache dolls and dioramas of cases.

Ann Althouse said...

But answer my question: Imagine those 2 school systems. Do you want your child in the Reading school or the No Reading school?

And if you're a teacher (like me), if you had the option of teaching the Readers or the Non-Readers, which would you pick?

Would you support creating these 2 classes of people at the education level?

What would be the results of a class system like that?

Which class would you like to find yourself in?

It's like a return to the Middle Ages, isn't it?

Bob R said...

Also, I'm not convinced that video lectures are really superior - or even as good. Technically, they are clearly better. You can edit out mistakes, make the audio very clear, add all kinds of visual aids. But we've been able to do this for decades. Film, VHS, DVD, the web. Nothing really different other than production was less expensive and distribution. That's great, but how many people decided to skip college in favor of $1,000 worth of VHS tape from The Great Courses. I have no real clue as to why, but physical presence seems to make a real difference.

Ann Althouse said...

Frankly, if you're not up for reading, you should NOT go to law school. If you're not a reader-learner, do something else!

It amazes me that anyone who isn't comfortable learning by reading and then talking about the reading would even consider going into law.

If I didn't want to read, I'd learn a craft or skill of some kind.

Lord Ben said...

My preference would depend on the order rather than the method. But if we take the order out of it then I learn better by listening and doing rather than by reading. I absolutely LOVE reading but I don't learn very well from it... personal preference.

I have done a few years of teaching Sunday School and other Youth stuff at church. Reading is the worst part.

I'll amend the above to be for subjects about which I'm not very familiar or the students aren't very familiar. If it's a subject I know and the reading is an in depth understanding then I learn pretty good by reading.

Lord Ben said...
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Jim Hu said...

I want the readers, but coupling it to the post about flipping creates the false dichotomy that flipping is just for the nonreaders.

In the readers school, flipping the classroom just means: I really meant it when I said I expect you to do the reading ahead of time. I'm not going to give you the readers digest form of the reading assignment in the form of a lecture during class time. Which is why students often hate it, at least at first.

In a large enough lecture class, live becomes indistinguishable from watching on video, except that you can't pause and repeat.

madAsHell said...

I took all the science courses in high school, and learned by reading. I assumed I was ready for college.

For some odd reason, the reading, and the problems become exponentially more difficult in college. It took about 18 months to adjust.

The beer and the skirts didn't help either.

kentuckyliz said...

Non-readers are slaves to the opinions of their teachers, which are enforced in the social interaction of the in-class activities.

Sounds like a perfect indoctrination camp to me.

kentuckyliz said...

If I had to teach this way, I would assign readings to read ahead of time, make the lecture extremely short--just the unique additional stuff I had to contribute--and there would be a mastery quiz that a student would have to pass to earn the right to attend classes and participate in the graded in-class activities, which would not be dioramas but applying what you've learned from the out of class readings. Skill demonstration and practice, case studies, etc.

Law school dioramas LOL.

Bob R said...

I'd pick the reader school to learn in and to teach in. (In fact, I DID learn in the reader school. The teachers just ignored it.)

To see the results of a class system like that you just have to look at our current elite colleges or any other system that has a strict segregation based on merit. And if you round up a whole lot of people who can learn things by reading they probably think they can write a law that would create a utopian health care system, but the web site would crash.

rehajm said...

except that you can't pause and repeat

I'm intrigued by the recorded lecture program. It would allow for extreme refinement and testing of language, order, context of the lecture, allows the recipient some latitude to watch when they may be more receptive, rather than based on the lecturer's schedule, and allows for rewind, as above.

pm317 said...

In my class I would have half and half -- a significant hands on project for half the time while the other half covered fundamentals and foundational material. It should not be a question of either or. And for law school (I am not a lawyer but I agree with what you said), it is silly to even think that non-reading mode works.

A literature class including old classics should be mandatory for even engineers and other STEM people.

In my family, I have a whole generation of young engineers and all they did was study/read for their stupid entrance exams and then their real course exams. No reading (I know you are talking about a different kind of 'reading') outside of that. They are not good conversationalists, they don't have any higher interests.. it is kind of really boring to be around them.

surfed said...
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surfed said...

I teach middle school in the inner city. Reading? Seriously? The naïvete. How so completely out of touch with any semblance of any reality in this or any other Universe. Oh my, the comedy.

Oso Negro said...

PM - let's then make a thermodynamics class (the REAL one, not some pussy version) mandatory for liberal arts majors. Yep, engineers are boring. Just the way you want them.

Oso Negro said...

Yes, Ann, I fear that reading as you have known it is in global retreat. On the bright side, in the generally illiterate future, people who can read and actually write, as opposed to cutting and pasting words pinched off the internet, will be genuinely valued once again.

Archie said...

BobR said: "No. People (at least the vast majority of them) don't learn by reading. Why do you think that nothing comes from a manual anymore? Because most people can't read a manual and learn how to do anything. Maybe students in law schools and Ph.D. programs can learn by reading, but (I speak from experience) not undergraduates at UW or VT." Bob, chicken or egg?

Freeman Hunt said...

What Althouse? You don't think the people listening to talks and then making salt maps and toothpick buildings will be better educated than the ones who read and discuss books? How many fancy law students can make an egg catcher out of Kleenex and foil? Sure, you could have the black and white world of books, but then you'll never have your oragami zoo and leather stamped rainbows.

Freeman Hunt said...

I assume the flipped classroom is something they want to do to make education even worse for minority students.

MadisonMan said...

If you're not a reader-learner

Ugh. Educators (no doubt PhDs) did a huge disservice to learners everywhere when they over-publicized that different type of learner crap. It just gives students license to fail. Of course I can't learn this...I'm a visual learner and you're making me read!

Here's an idea: The brain is a hugely adaptive organ. Change it and learn how to learn.

iowan2 said...

Ann, your question sounds so utterly basic and boring.
Reading of course.
But then I see all the comments and I see that you and I are in the minority. Maybe the age thing? Combined with the language thing. As in the joy of words?

We raised our kids to have fun with words, and they did. But that took work on their part. They had to look up definitions. We had fun with vocabulary. Our kids entered Kindergarten with a 5th grade vocabulary, only because they didn't test past the 5th grade level. Today both read a lot.....for recreation (one teacher on engineer). But they were raised in an environment that had the printed word everywhere. We also never had a video game machine, the kids never asked.

Reading is the most important life skill. That falls on the parents, not the school. Parents that fail that fail their kids. But what difference, at this point does it make? Whats the big deal if kids don't read and aren't productive in society? Big Gov is always there to provide. So the parents that don't see to their children's reading skill, suffer no consequences.

Not like the good old days when the comfort of your retirement years were directly tied you your children's success or failure.

Mr. D said...

My kids love flipped classrooms, which they use for math in our school district in Minnesota. I tend to agree that it wouldn't work so well in reading-intensive courses, but having the classroom time to work through math problems seems to work very well and makes it easier for the kids to work on specific math problems together, instead of banging their heads against the wall individually.

Freeman Hunt said...

If you give kids art supplies and tools instead of screens, they spend their free time coming up with their own hands on projects.

Freeman Hunt said...

I recommend these.

annk said...

That's how Texas A&M plans to increase engineering enrollment from 11,000 to 25,000 by 2025.

Freeman Hunt said...

That said, I'm all for science labs and math play in addition to books. In addition to.

Bob Loblaw said...

Short version: I like it and I use it. I teach a course where we use design software, and the course is held in a computer lab. When I lecture or demonstrate, a lot of the students zone out. So when it's time to do in-class exercises, the few students who paid attention know what to do, but the many students who zoned out don't have a clue. I wind up essentially giving the lecture again and again as I go around the room to see how everyone is faring.

So I flipped. I record a lecture/demonstration video that the students watch outside of class. When they come to class, we use the whole time to do in-class exercises on the computer, and to work on their homework projects. I can spend the whole class helping students with questions and problems.

Before, there was a wide discrepancy between the competent students and the lost students. Post-flip, it is much more even. Students can revisit the videos rather than only have one shot at a lecture. I'm currently of the mind that long, one-off lectures are fairly useless and result in very uneven learning across a class.

Hagar said...

In Norwegian high school when I grew up, the system was 45 minute class periods, of which the first 10 minutes os so would be spent spot schecking to see if the pupils had read the homework assignment, then lecture and/or discussion on matters not covered in the textbook.
Come testing or exam time, the pupils were responsible for knowing both.

And BTW, the final examinations at the end of 5 years of high school could go back to courses taught in 1st grade (of high school).
We learned how to study, and I was amazed when I came to this country and found that college students had no idea of how to go about studying and instead of forcing them to figure it out quick, the college would just spoonfeed them with class lectures.

gbarto said...

I recently took a Coursera course where you could get the lectures and lecture notes, then you had to do a quiz or project. You could get input on confusing elements on a forum.

I had a calculus class where the prof demonstrated theoretical constructs all hour and then we were supposed to do problems for homework. That class would have been much better flipped.

I think it's worth realizing you can flip a class with reading as well. If the students have to pre-read, then come in for discussion before they write their papers, that's in effect flipped too. The big thing is seeing if there's a way to get the basic content outside of class so you can work with it with the experts, as opposed to using your time with the expert to be exposed to something that doesn't require everyone to be sitting in the same room at the same time now that we have audio, video and, for that matter, a printing press. After all, the lecture started as someone reading out his notes because there wasn't a convenient way to pass out copies.

George Grady said...

Most students that I've had don't know how to read to learn, at least for math. If you don't have a pad of paper and a pencil to work things through as you're reading, you might as well not bother. It'd be like trying to learn how to play the piano by reading a book, but not actually having a piano.

Freeman Hunt said...

I think project classes are different. If the objective of the class is to learn how to do projects, then it makes sense to do them in class.

I had a computer science teacher who would begin the class with a programming problem and allow us to work on it individually for a while. Then we'd discuss it, and he'd lecture on a new concept. Finally we'd try the programming problem again, the new concept having made it much easier to solve.

surfed said...

Next you know someone will advocate open classroom schools...

Carl said...

Yes, you're wrong. Or at least insulated. Some people learn very well by the lecture method. Other people don't. You're right to heap scorn on the new Eduspeak term "flipped classrooom," but the old-fashioned way to express the same idea was learning by doing, or learning by apprenticeship. It works far better for people who tend to think more concretely, and in lists, rather than abstractly, and in heirarchical trees.

I don't expect it matters much at the law school, because you're all training future lawyers and judges, aristocrats. But imagine a very different mission, where you want to teach ordinary people enough about the law to get by in this hyperlegalistic world. Would you really teach long lectures and have discussions about it? Or would you find it much more effective to, say, work through a divorce custody modification motion, a landlord-tenant dispute, or a small-claims action with your students, branching off at the most apt points if it seemed suitable into the broader underlying legal concepts?

Pity the legal academy doesn't think of that kind of broad practical education as part of its social mission, and find some way to provide it for cheap. Might even make people hate lawyers less.

Tari said...

From what we've seen in middle school, the flipped model works very well for Science and Math class. You get taught at home how to do the math problems (Khan Academy works well for this), you do a few for homework, and then, with everyone having some kind of basic understanding, you dig deeper in class the next day. Or with Science, it gives the kids more time for labs - especially in middle school when there are no extra periods during the week set aside for labs.

In History and English class, the homework is still mostly reading and writing. Then class time is sometimes for lecture, but frequently for projects and individual classwork (we are in an IB school, and IB loves project work). Middle school project work is way beyond dioramas and popsicle stick artwork; projects are usually oral presentations and/or written work, usually something done by a small group who has been given a problem to solve, issue to present, concept to explain, etc.

This all works really well in middle school, and I'm assuming it will in high school as well. Law school? What a dreadful idea! Except as some other commenters have pointed out, all that nightly reading (and writing summaries of cases, if you're really motivated) is essentially flipped learning. But videos of law school professors, lecturing away? No thanks.

Gabriel Hanna said...

In practice, flipped classroom means no reading. In addition, in a flipped classroom you have the only assurance possible that your students are not using Google and Yahoo Answers to do their homework.

I've tried it, without the video lectures, and the students complain vociferously that you are "not teaching" and that "you expect them to come in knowing everything already".

Tari said...

Forgot to add - I am 110% Reader, and I hated projects as a child. But now, all I do all day are projects at work, so I'm grateful my children are learning some of both. And I have boys, and I think somehow they learn more by doing than I ever did. I don't think you should divide things up into Readers and Non-Readers, especially when children are young. If they want to choose their college major/profession based on how they learn best, great. But earlier on, learning how to learn by reading and by doing - both are important.

Julie C said...

My younger son has a flipped class this year, as a freshman in high school. It's his geometry class, and I think for math, as others have said, it makes sense. He watches the lectures at home, tries some of the problems, and then in class the teacher works individually with the kids who have questions.

The biggest problem is that some kids are naturally reticent about asking for help. I had to work with my son to make him realize that if he just asked for help, the teacher would, in fact, help!

Can't imagine the model working for any reading based classes. My older son is taking AP Art History and said some of the Khan academy stuff is quite useful however when reviewing material for tests. But the class requires tons of reading.

RecChief said...

funny, I was just talking about this the other day with some teacher friends who were complaining because they don't have a "smart board" in the classrooms here.

I pointed out that the men who built the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo vehicles all learned math by using slide rules. That Jefferson, Franklin, John Adams all learned by reading actual books. And so on.

Douglas said...

Ann,
I think you may be wrong here. My understanding is that the traditional Socratic law school class is a "flipped class." The students do the reading at home and try to figure out the answers on their own. In class the professor asks questions and leads a discussion. In my Analytical Methods class, I assign readings and problems and then in class I don't lecture at all, I just call on students to solve the problems. I only explain the material to the extent necessary to correct or amplify on the student's answer. Isn't that more or less what you do? I think the rest of the world has just caught up with law schools.

Aloha Johnny said...

My 8th grade son has a flipped Math and Science Class. Seems to be working well. They watch a Khan Academy or other video at home on the math. Try a few problems, and then go to class the next day and do "homework" in the class. If they have problems, the teacher is there to help. The normal way, they are at home trying to do the math and the clueless parent is trying to help. As Ann said, this is how law is taught. So its the innovation is bringing it to Math and Science.

David said...

"Am I wrong?"

But when the kids who read get way far ahead in life they will be called names and made to pay reparations.

David said...

Althouse, most people do not know that in the middle ages there was a literate elite and an illiterate underclass. They sort of know that something like that is going on today, and they cluck cluck about it but when the hard work comes they come up with cowardly ideas like this one.

In the digital interconnected world, the ability to write concisely and persuasively and to read and understand information will get more important, not less.

The surrender is near complete, and the defeat is being made into a program.

Surfed said: "I teach middle school in the inner city. Reading? Seriously? The naïvete. How so completely out of touch with any semblance of any reality in this or any other Universe. Oh my, the comedy."

We now accept this as the inevitable reality. Bush was mocked for decrying "the soft bigotry of low expectations." The only thing wrong with what he said was that such bigotry is not soft.

(I am not calling you a bigot, Surfed. But the system in which you must operate is deeply racist to its core. Think of the teachers in Atlanta, mostly black, who faked the test scores. How corrupt does a system have to have become to create that behavior, and then to tolerate it?)

Jesse Thomas said...

I'm a law student, and my favorite professor has started using the "flipped classroom" method in her administrative law class this year. The students still have to read all of the cases, as well as listen to a 15 minute podcast. The in-class activities consist of a discussion of the material as well as exercises where the students apply what they've learned to fact patterns.

Jesse Thomas said...

I'm a law student, and my favorite professor has started using the "flipped classroom" method in her administrative law class this year. The students still have to read all of the cases, as well as listen to a 15 minute podcast. The in-class activities consist of a discussion of the material as well as exercises where the students apply what they've learned to fact patterns.

Kirk Parker said...

RecChief,

"I pointed out that the men who built the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo vehicles all learned math by using slide rules."

Not quite. They all learned science and engineering using slide rules.

PianoLessons said...

The Millenial Generation that we now teach are not book readers - not because they didn't soak up Harry Potter (if they were lucky) or other alphabetic texts on paper but because they enter college without being accountable for much serious reading in high school.

In my high school years, (a Catholic girls' school in Chicago) we read Sarte, Dostoevsky, Dickens, Milton (Yes - Paradise Lost for crye eye)....

High schools are the problem - they are in need of serious reform to bring back some learning through reading great works and - as they are about policing and keeping the lid from blowing up now days....

We need major high school reform in regards to Reading Across the Curriculum.

PianoLessons said...

Further - the old "sage on the stage" lecture model of conduit learning (as if a professor is going to somehow deliver knowledge to students) is so old school.

The Millenials hate it - and so do I - and I teach college students.

Law school should be about case studies in action not some clever and polished actor/professor delivering lectures in class.

Have students watch the lectures to enhance the practical applications they can employ in the real world (uhmmm.....law school degree may mean you get a job for a collection agency or a Workers' Comp Ambulance Chasing firm.

Let's get real Ann.

PianoLessons said...

The reasons Thomas Edison's prediction here (the inventor of the industrial training film) may have a LOT to do with the textbook publishing lockhold in education - don't you think?

"Also, in September 1913 a newspaper in Oregon restated Edison’s predictions

O joy! Books in the public school will soon be obsolete, Edison predicts. He says further that “scholars will be instructed entirely through the eye. It is possible to teach every branch of human knowledge with the motion-picture. Our school system will be completely changed inside of ten years.”

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2012/02/15/books-obsolete/


Thomas Edison truly believed this in 1913 - that learning will be shifting to the visual eye...and not the written word in alphabetic symbols -

Sigh.

MaxTruth said...

This is exactly the approach that Khan Academy takes and imo is the best learning experience on the web. You watch the video, rewind, repeat, write down questions, etc and the next day have the information clarified and reinforced.

pm317 said...

@oso negro.. lol.. I am an engineer -- so don't get me wrong but I also read Great Gatsby.

C Stanley said...

Doesn't sound to me like reading is necessarily marginalized in that approach. Why assume that the taped lectures substitute for reading? We don't assume that in class lectures do so.

Learning styles really do differ, though I agree with ine commenter upstream in that educators don't get it right and teaching fads are usually more destructuve than constructive.

surfed said...
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surfed said...

@David - I work closely with Lutheran Social Services for Immigrant and Refugee Children. Any disaster or political upheaval and the children from that disaster land in my classroom. Last month I was in the halls and a quaintly named male Haitian student (they are traditionally named after the Saints) came up to me and started discussing child kings and the regents that ruled for them. I was completely nonplussed. I went through Althouse's Amazon portal and purchased "The Prince and the Pauper for him. he was 14 years old and it was the first book he had ever owned. Think about that for a second. What a joy and a delight to be able to carry on what passes for an intellectual conversation at my inner city school. Frankly I'm too deep in the weeds as it were to see the forest for the trees. Thanks for the heads up.

Mark said...

I teach engineering, including the introductory problem solving and programming course. Flipping is a great way for me to achieve some of my objectives, and engage the students. I can offer the students various pre-class activities, from reading to various forms of video or audio lectures. I can then have them work individually or in groups on a project. The group work seems to eliminate the "no one is getting this" syndrome, as they end up seeing that others are indeed understanding the material.

I do wish my students would read more. I spend too much time saying "that's on page xx of the book" and not really helping the student because they haven't spent the time to understand the base material. I couldn't imagine going into a classroom and leading a discussion on 3 phase power or Fourier transforms until we have worked a few problems and understood the concept, and even then, the discussion wouldn't be that long.

MarkW said...

Lectures are generally a waste of time. The amount of time kids are in school (i.e. 30+ hours a week) is more than enough. A good sign of that is that home-schooled kids typically spend much less time in the 'classroom' than public school kids and still do better. Flipping the classroom makes public schools more like home schools -- instead of looking out the window while the teacher drones on, the kids actually sit down and get to work--and that includes reading. Kids work at their own pace (meaning the fast kids can zip ahead and the ones who need help can get it because the teacher is available, not lecturing).

Bob R said...

@Archie-(7:11PM)"Chicken or egg." Let me preface this by saying I don't think anyone (definitely including me) KNOWS anything about teaching and learning. So I'm giving guesses and nothing more.

I think that people on the right side of the IQ bell curve process information in a qualitatively different way from the rest of the population. They are able to go directly from text to a conceptual framework that can be applied in other contexts. With a lot of work, you can teach those methods to a larger group, but no one has figured out how to make them available to the bulk of the bell curve. Repetition, drill, and memorization work for a far larger group of people. The idea that we can chain a kid with a 100 IQ to a desk and make him/her read the textbook until the (CFL) light bulb comes on strikes me as fanciful.

So, "egg," I guess.

Bob R said...

I'd also like to point out that being a law professor and a hyperactive blogger is one of the most text immersive existences I can imagine. It's a particularly unusual perspective. (I say this as a mathematician with a lot of colleagues who are clueless about how unusual our perspective is.)

Henry said...

I have no problem getting my kids to read. Getting them to do their homework is harder.

Helping them with their homework ends up as part of the job of the parent. This makes no sense. Homework -- the doing -- is where the learning happens.

If there are people who supposedly have the job of helping kids learn, why are they not teaching in the environment where the learning is actually happening?

Imagine training for a job where all the instruction was in a lecture hall and the actual hands on training was up to you to do on your own. Or you could ask your Mom for help.

Matthew Sablan said...

Actually, the initial question could be really effective, especially in a couple of cases that jumped out at me.

It might work well for non-traditional college students who have the discipline to queue up the lecture and listen while doing their adult things like commuting, etc. But, as a paradigm for younger kids, I'm not sure.

It also might work really well for students with some kinds of learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or other such ones that make the homework part hard. As a cure all, I dunno.

Also: Quibble about the title. Lectures DID work in 1350, and they still work now.

Matthew Sablan said...

"(We've actually spent years teaching kids how to skim and find the answers without reading.)"

-- This is very true.

Henry said...

To follow up: "Flipped classroom" is "reading school." Traditional school is "no reading school." The "watch a video" detail is just bait for status quo presumption.

In flipped classroom, basic concepts are learned outside of class, in one way or another. Reading is a good way. Then the classroom is used for actual practice and application.

In traditional classroom, basic concepts are taught in class -- sometimes with video, believe it or not -- and application and practice work is sent home.

Poor schools attempt to make up for bad classroom instruction by sending home more homework.

The not-bad-not-good city school my kids went to for many years assigned much more homework than the superb suburban school they go to now. One year the city school sent home so many photocopied worksheets that they ran out of paper in May.

Many universities have composition labs and math labs. Students go the labs to learn the nuts and bolts of composition and math -- the stuff they didn't learn in traditional school.

Matthew Sablan said...

[Though, I guess I wrote what I wrote without adding the obvious addendum that flipped schools obviously work better with more skills-intensive classes, programming, math, science labs, for example.]

Tank said...

Ann Althouse said...

Frankly, if you're not up for reading, you should NOT go to law school. If you're not a reader-learner, do something else!

It amazes me that anyone who isn't comfortable learning by reading and then talking about the reading would even consider going into law.

If I didn't want to read, I'd learn a craft or skill of some kind.

Really. It amuses me that I was an "uninterested" student through high school at least, and for the last 30 years as a lawyer, much of what I do is school-like; reading, synthesizing, writing about it, persuading.

Tank said...

I don't know much about teaching, but I do think many people on the right side of the bell curve do not "get it" that other people cannot learn the way that they do. Homeschoolers miss this too; if you're a bright person you can homeschool, if you're not, not.

Matthew Sablan said...

That's actually a good point, Tank. I am not, inherently, gifted at retaining or obtaining knowledge.

Where other people in college could get away with a 15 minute cram session before class and get A's, I was studying and reviewing lectures the day after, and had a study regimen for a week or so out from the exam. Some people threw together A papers overnight, I worked on them from the moment the teacher gave us the topic/range of topics to choose from. I read all the books we were given, cover to cover, often with extra sources.

It's hard for people I know to believe, because I'm much more well-read than average, that I'm, in reality, not that much smarter than the average bear. If one of those lazy, but talented, people put in the effort I did, who knows where they would be.

FuzzyFace said...

Teaching by lecturing is a skill - not everybody has it, and not every student can learn from it. My organic chemistry and quantum mechanics profs were spectacular lecturers - you learned much more from them than you could ever have gotten from textbooks. My statistical mechanics prof was the opposite; all you got from his lectures was "bored." We would have benefited very well from a flipped classroom for his course.

Khan Academy has better lectures on many subjects than you can find in most classrooms. Using those as a starting point and having teachers work with the students afterwards can be extremely helpful.

Freeman Hunt said...

What is the definition of a flipped classroom? The first working definition here seemed to be no reading, video lecture at home, work with your hands at school. Other definitions have come up like video lecture at home, work problems in class and read at home, discuss in class, but those seem traditional. What does flipped classroom really mean?

carrie said...

As the mother of a child with dyslexia, I think this sounds like a disaster. Children with dyslexia can overcome it only with rote learning of the short vowel sounds and the other rules of phonics and by lots and lots and lots of practice reading. This sounds a lot like the change to the Whole Language approach to reading which caused all the problems for kids with dyslexia--teachers wanted teaching to be fun instead of work and stopped teaching phonics in a systematic way which is the exact opposite of what kids with reading difficulties needed.

carrie said...

As the mother of a child with dyslexia, I think this sounds like a disaster. Children with dyslexia can overcome it only with rote learning of the short vowel sounds and the other rules of phonics and by lots and lots and lots of practice reading. This sounds a lot like the change to the Whole Language approach to reading which caused all the problems for kids with dyslexia--teachers wanted teaching to be fun instead of work and stopped teaching phonics in a systematic way which is the exact opposite of what kids with reading difficulties needed.

Bruce Hayden said...

Funny thing about learning math for me is that despite being basically a book learner, I learned math best by listening to lectures first, then doing the homework (sometimes). I would take a lot of indecipherable notes during class, and that was inevitably sufficient. Noticed this first semester freshman year with Calculus II. At the end of the semester, I was saying, what's the big deal? Calculus verges on the obvious. With that introduction to college, it probably isn't too surprising that math ended up my major.

After that I took a lot of CS/EE classes, and got business and law degrees. With engineering, I needed to either read or attend class, but rarely needed both. CS was better read. Accounting was like math - best done for me by lecture, but then could ignore the text. Other business classes were similar. Law though really did require reading first, then putting it together in class. Somewhat a shock to me, who had rarely resorted to reading texts before that. But then ended up spending most of my career learning by reading.

I think maybe my point here is that for even one person, they often learn different subjects differently. It has to be much worse for teaching many/most people many/most subjects. I think maybe the solution might be to offer two or more approaches at the same time.

Henry said...

Freeman Hunt asked What is the definition of a flipped classroom?

The discussion at the link is very brief, almost an aside. It is interesting that Althouse turned it into a post.

This Wikipedia article more or less jibes with my assumptions, though it's fairly biased. The emphasis on outside-the-class video and computer-aided lecture seems less important to me than the idea of doing problem sets in class.

As I mentioned earlier, this is the model of the college math or composition lab. Students get concepts outside the lab (in the lecture hall perhaps) then come to the lab to work through the actual problem set.

Peter said...

Carl wrote (regarding law school), "you're all training future lawyers and judges, aristocrats."

But, laws (statute and precedent) are made out of words! Therefore it surely makes sense to insist that anyone who is not comfortable and proficient in extracting meaning from words does not belong in law school.

And I think it makes sense that laws should be made from words, as text remains an excellent way to present assertions that can be judged to be true or false. Which is why text will remain essential to 'hard' sciences and engineering.

The written word presumably have less value elsewhere; for example, in the performing arts (and some other fine arts), in sports, in the manual trades, in anything that deals in kinesthetics.

But, law? Law is made out of text, and I hope this is always so. For it will always be easier to judge the truth or falsity of an assertion or other statement than to judge the same regarding a video.

Bruce Hayden said...

Teaching by lecturing is a skill - not everybody has it, and not every student can learn from it. My organic chemistry and quantum mechanics profs were spectacular lecturers - you learned much more from them than you could ever have gotten from textbooks. My statistical mechanics prof was the opposite; all you got from his lectures was "bored." We would have benefited very well from a flipped classroom for his course.

One of the tragic things, in my view, about the university system, is that in a lot of areas, esp, I think, in STEM, research is king. Those who do great research can get tenure track gigs, while those who like, and are good at, teaching end up most often as adjuncts and lecturers, with low pay, and less security. Maybe by graduate school, the students should be able to book learn, but as pointed out above, there are classes like thermodynamics that are challenging even then. My kid is seeing this sort of thing first hand as a first year STEM PhD student. In particular, one class, taught by an older full professor who would rather be back in his lab than lecturing. Some of this is financial - the research brings in the money. But some is probably due to tenured researchers preferring other researchers for tenured positions because that is what they appreciate.

Peter said...

David said, "Althouse, most people do not know that in the middle ages there was a literate elite and an illiterate underclass"

But I doubt that the middle ages is a good example here. In that time, there were roughly three classes in society: those who prayed (the clergy), those who fought (the aristocracy) and those who farmed (the peasantry).

The church and the aristocracy were constantly jousting for position and power (e.g., investiture) while those who farmed were often just serfs. But while reading may have been valued in the church, few of the aristocracy ever learned to read and write; they had servants to do that for them. Even kings were often illiterate.

The relevant parallel perhaps is, we are probably headed for an era of greater economic inequality and, most of those who are not proficient readers are likely to be permanently locked into economic strata well below middle class.

Rusty said...

Which class would you like to find yourself in?

The ones where you leave me the hell alone to read the texts and just let me show up for exams.

My older brother was working on his masters in humanities when he dropped out to get his A&P certificate(aircraft mechanic).
A two year program. 50 weeks a year, 44 hours a week of classroom and "labs". One hour of lecture and 10 hours of labs.
Never did finish his masters.
He is still a compulsive reader. Our whole family is.

EMD said...

I liked listening to teachers talk, because there was such a dearth of sane adults in my life.

The best classes I had in high school were run by the same teacher. One was Economics and the other was a half-year of Philosophy and a half-year of Russian History. (Weird, huh?)

We talked. Debated. He challenged us constantly with questions.

ken in sc said...

When I taught 6th grade world history, I gave a reading assignment in the text every day and required the students to write a possible test question from each paragraph. Some of them could pick out the exact questions I put on the tests. The next day we went over those questions in class. They were sup[posed to keep those assignments in a notebook which I spot checked periodically. I never lectured. It was too boring, for both parties. I got written-up for it at least once. I didn't do “Direct Instruction” like they wanted.

BTW, when they put social studies on the annual standardized NCLB test, my students beat the district average.