Cutting Class

Jim McGee is talking about the goals that the makers of "technology-enabled" learning tools should be setting for themselves. Citing the Internet Time Blog, he includes their anecdote of the success of one program:

The Advanced Computer Tutoring Project at Carnegie Mellon University claims even higher performance gains among Pittsburgh high-school students studying math. Did the students like it? One swore at a teacher so she'd get kicked out of school for a couple of days -- during which she learned geometry with her unrestricted time online.

I remember that in high school, I was pretty aware of situations where I thought I could be learning more effectively outside of the classroom. In Chemistry, I figured that casually but explicitly linking my sullen mood with the explosive potential of the class subject would get me sent to the counselor to shoot the Socratic breeze, a please-don't-throw-me-in-the-briar-patch situation. This was 17 years ago, and I suspect the type of counseling these days would be of a much more targeted and unpleasant nature, so don't try this at home. If swearing can do the trick, that seems to be the way to go.

High school kids have a pretty good idea of what they need to learn to meet their immediate goals. That this may not coincide with their ultimate goals is not surprising. But soon, next week, I'll be back in a lab, teaching VB programming, and it seems like there has got to be better ways to do it than stepping through a sample exercise. We'll see how it goes.

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