Showing Your Work For Learning

Showing Your Work For Learning

“Show your work in the working column,” is something I often heard in mathematics classes in school, and read in question papers for assessments. This display of your calculation process and steps was meant as a proof of authenticity, for the teacher or examiner to make sure the final result had not simply been copied or guessed. Showing your work was an added obstacle to prove your actual mathematical knowledge. I won’t go so far as to say it tested understanding, because if you understood, there are many things you could manage without displaying exactly how mechanically you executed long division. I was never a mathematical prodigy, merely average, but even I remember times when I had to fill out the working column for bureaucratic requirements rather than because I needed to calculate the answer. Showing your work in scribbles at the side of the page was often just examination red tape you tolerated.
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Pleasures and Perils of Planning

Pleasures and Perils of Planning

Foresight is one of the few uniquely human traits. This ability to predict future developments is what lets us pre-empt challenges and plan in advance for things as they will be. Prediction and planning is an intuitive craft, something we too often fail to respect in the designing of education, but it is not a science, a fact we too often forget.
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Thinking Beyond Straight Lines

Thinking Beyond Straight Lines

We misjudge the nature of reality. Facts, processes, histories, developments, stories, we see them all as progressing in neat straight lines. We imagine sequences of elements, events and considerations occurring in a well-mannered series of things that follow inevitably into one another. Reality, however, is more amorphous cloud or chaotic canopy of branches than a train on metal rails. So our understandings vary from the over-simplified to the down-right false. This proves to be a very limiting factor when we are called upon to plan for events, design processes or execute tasks that are not precisely covered by the scope of our past learning.
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Asking the Right Questions

Asking the Right Questions

A never followed, but often cited wisdom is that learning is not about knowing the answers but asking questions. If learning is about asking questions, education, both the process and the state of being, is about asking the right questions. I believe both educators and the educated are either trained or conditioned to ask many questions, but usually the wrong ones. Then the right question to ask now is what makes some questions ‘right’?
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