Fault-resistant education

Posted on October 12, 2017


Not sure what reminded me of it, but when I made myself get on the bike at lunch because it wasn’t actually raining…  I remembered that inspiring video of Uri Treisman (Hello, at NCTM… )   and his plea that we should design education as the space program designed its hardware (at least back before Microsoft made “who cares about the bugs, PUBLISH!” the way of the world) — with at least two backups for anything, because things *are* going to fail.

This afternoon I got to work with students who are resisting faults… one of ’em was a pretty rampant “just use the calculator and get the assignment done” last semester who was insistent on asking for extra, similar problems so that he could master the idea.   Now another one … well, between being here in the morning and coming back at 4:00,  a whole mess of lessons had gotten done… so I suspect there was some calculator intervention in that gap… but in here it was all about “gotta understand this.”

These folks are coming to me from teachers who have managed to convince them (not necessarily in the first attempt at the course) that … it is worth engaging the brain and learning the stuff.  No, folks, it doesn’t happen when it’s just ALEKS.

The other contemplation was the reflection that the Transitions course has sort of evolved to the same sequence as the next level course (Pre-Algebra), but teaching the stuff that students who would need two times through the course would get the first time — with the failing grade because that wasn’t enough.   (I think that’s what woke up the “fault-resistant” connection.)

Some success at the next step in my number line graphic.  What should my iconic character be?  Turtle?   Penguin?

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