That Chicago PD video

Is this how people learn?

This has made the rounds on the Internet, and it has angered lots of folks in education. And rightly so. Because there is no learning going on in that video.

But those teachers are being trained to deliver that sort of instruction to students in classrooms. Go ahead and search EDI or whole-brain teaching. You’ll see these very techniques being promoted as good practice.

So, is it how people learn, or is it not?

Tip of the cap to David Wees for reminding me that the parallels are not necessarily obvious.


13 responses to “That Chicago PD video

  1. Chris (@absvalteaching)

    Well, if we consider learning as a relative term/process, I suppose it could be occurring. The problem I have here is that there doesn’t seem to be a more effective way than this to suck any enjoyment students may have for learning right out of them.

  2. i actually found that since the sentence was so broken up by the call-and-response that i wasn’t retaining its meaning at all.

  3. responded too soon before i saw that power teaching video on twitter. horrific. i can think of ten better ways to introduce the order of operations that *actually* engages the students in *doing* and *thinking* about math. there was 6 minutes of no math whatsoever happening here. it’s all happening devoid of any content/context.

    from a YouTube comment on the video: “Remember the old saying “Practice Makes Perfect”. These kids are practicing what they are learning immediately.”

    my question would be what exactly are they learning/practicing?

  4. I had the same question @nerdypoo. I don’t know which is scarier about the Power Teaching video, what the kids are doing or just how *happy* they seem to be while doing it. OMG, I saw one boy mouthing what the teacher was saying and copying her *gestures* while she was giving them instructions! The term “brainwashed” comes to mind.


    Harry Webb certainly thinks so. While I think he is wrong, he brings the research on a regular basis and I find myself wondering how teachers I greatly respect, like you, would actually respond to him.

    Is he wrong about cognitive load?
    If so, what are the confounding factors that the studies are missing?
    Is there some sort of learned helplessness effecting the students?
    If so, is that something we can actually overcome in the classroom?

    Any thoughts? I ask because I find Webb nagging in the back of my mind as I struggle to implement a more discovery based curriculum (CPM) among students who really do seem to shut down from the lack of direct instruction, even with extensive coaching and support.

  6. I don’t think education researchers have done enough to define different *kinds* of learning. Piaget wrote about logical-mathematical knowledge vs. social knowledge, for example. I think there are some kinds of modeling and instruction that are best delivered by highly directed, highly scripted, highly engaged, call-and-response type learning. For example: memorizing poems (which I highly believe in), memorizing the quadratic formula, memorizing conventions (like the names of the parts of the coordinate plane). Also, modeling and memorizing a new algorithm or organizing principle (for example, I’d be tempted to give a scripted call-and-response lesson on determining if 2 lines are perpendicular in a 10th grade coordinate geometry lesson if they can’t remember the process and I don’t feel it’s worth the time to motivate it). Or even introducing the process of a gallery walk or the expectations for different roles in group work. As fond as I am of “nix the tricks” I’m also in favor of carefully worded, interactive, repetitive micro-lessons to teach conventions, algorithms, routines, etc.

  7. If Abe Lincoln were alive he’d drop out a second time. The blab school lives on.

  8. Wow, that’s a scary video.

    @Brett, I glanced through that link, and do plan to read through some of the articles, but here’s two initial thoughts that struck me: 1) he defines education as “the sharing of knowledge,” which I believe to be an unbelievably misguided definition: education is not just about fact and knowledge but skills and concepts, which are not “share” but must be learned. 2) Novices typically only need fully guided instruction when what they are doing is exceptionally boring and abstract, like memorizing formulas. When they are learning challenging ideas by masteries challenges skills, information is best provided in context and on demand. Putting information in context can make it more engaging and more easily retained- unfortunately in education we believe the information needs to be given before students should be able to experience the context, and doing so in that order is exceptionally boring, and needs to be exceptionally guided.

    “Something incredibly wonderful happens” is one great reference that talks about these ideas in the context of the founding of the Exploratorium.

    • EDI stands for shit teaching, apparently.

      • Brett Gilland

        Explicit Direct Instruction. The creepy tell and repeat version of teaching. Highly scripted and very good at showing increased performance, though cognitive demand and interconnections are…. lacking. Based on the work of E.D. Hirsch, to the extent that they expand on his belief that core knowledge is the heart of success in reading and maths and that connections will come once factual material is internalized. I don’t recall if he ever endorsed it.

  9. This is why I left teaching. I got transferred to a school that drilled in a fashion similar to this. I was basically ostracized because I refused to toe the line. Sure, I kept my job, but they made my life hell enough that I left. Following this type of format is called being a “team player”. I call it evil what they are doing to teachers and most especially children. It’s all done in the name of higher test scores. Teachers follow along just to keep their jobs (if not their sanity). Other teachers love the power and control they can direct over teachers and students. It’s a sad situation.

  10. I am a CPS teacher. I would be the one sitting in this PD, not repeating anything outloud and rolling my eyes the entire time.

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