A grab-bag of annoyance

  2009-05-12


I've been meaning to write more, or indeed at all, on this blog. In the interests of making this easier, I'll try to ease my way in with a bit of a gripe post. Always easier! So this will be deliberately more extreme than my actual views. With that said...

The concept of "definition"


Why does it seem that education academics find this so difficult? This morning's 5500 lecture featured a slide titled "Definition of School 1.0 & Web 2.0" with the text "School 1.0" and "Web 2.0" linked. Both of these links went to images, and the "definition" was derived by asking us "what sort of words do you think describe the pedagogies & teacher-student-knowledge relationships inspired by these". These are not definitions, damnit, and it seems that Tony doesn't really get it. Later in the lecture a student asked "I don't really get what you mean by 'technological determinism' and 'social determinism', could you explain?", and it didn't seem that Tony understood the question - he certainly didn't reply with a definition of what he meant by "technological determinism". From the context of the lecture, it seems to me that he could very well have said "technological determinism is the idea that technology is awesome, and so if you use it in some task it will make that task more awesome". However, I don't know if that's how Tony understands it, or even if he could make his understanding explicit at all. I find, myself, that being unable to explicitly state what I mean is indicative of my poor understanding.

This is by no means isolated to Tony. One of our readings was an excerpt from Professor Ewing's book, the first chapter of which was titled "Towards some Definitions". In this chapter, she surveys the wide range of definitions of "curriculum" in the literature - ranging from "the list of dot-points a teacher wants to cover in the year", to "the whole sum of experience adults would like a child to receive over the course of their life". No where does she suggest what she means by the word "curriculum", something which I feel would be useful in a book about the subject!

On the choice of labels


Dear academics: when choosing the label you'd like to use for your particular assessment technique, please be aware that calling it authentic assessment will make you look like an arrogant know-it-all. Thank you.