Wednesday 18 May 2016

Completed work  learning

Today I am wondering about what 'authentic' numeracy gains look like and how often they occur.  As I trawl through hour upon hour of classroom recordings, it becomes clear that very little learning is occurring.

I have over 72 hours of classroom recordings (yip - listened to it all!). It doesn't matter if it is hairdressing, agriculture, employment skills or sport and fitness, the focus is always on 'completing' work.

Our sector has made a naive causative link between work completed and learning.  It permeates the sector from the top to the bottom.  I know that vocational training has a 'doing' emphasis. The learners are learning to 'do' things. But the work they complete in classes is not the work they will be doing in the target vocation. In some cases its almost pure academic.

This suggests to me an under-trained sector.  For example, in mathematics education you are beaten over the head by the need to focus on learner thinking. Yet the tertiary sector appears to spend its time ignoring this or naively believing it is a side-effect of completing work.

I was reading Plato last night (Protagoras & Meno) and interestingly they do not even address 'work'. They seek understanding and insight - and by heck they get it.  The Socratic method is frowned on in vocational settings and critics may have some small valid points. There is a belief in some circles that a. this approach is too intellectual for some learners, and b. it is abstract and therefore not applicable to the real world. Yet, the current state of affairs keeps the weaknesses of the Socratic method with none of the benefits of other methods.

Perhaps this 'completed work = learning occurring' is THE problem in the tertiary sector.


  1. "i was reading Plato last night"... perfectly normal, of course

  2. Ha ha, actually its really very readable and quite good fun. Not at all high brow despite what people think. Those Greeks were pretty down to earth.