This will be my final official blog post for Granite State College EDU704. I had about 10 ideas for this one, and considered doing a ‘potpurri’ with 1 paragraph about each, but instead this will be about blogging and learning in the open.
A few years ago, I realized that non-fiction books were great fun to read and I was very interested in behavioral economics and the psychology of memory and learning. I also read a couple on the spread of ideas on the internet, Contagious and Made to Stick, which I’m realizing as I research this post, I don’t remember the specifics from all that well.
The biggest thing that I’ve noticed personally from blogging and writing research papers is the topic of my last blog – they force me to come to a conclusion and when I’m done I very firmly believe that. When I muster the effort to think about how strongly I should believe the novel thesis statement I was asked to create, I feel like there’s very little reason to. My 10 hours of work on a paper or a couple hours on a blog represent maybe .1% or .01% of the knowledge related to the subject. But, my subconscious (Kahneman’s System 1) is firmly convinced. It will be very difficult to knock me off my belief that:
Extrinsic rewards are fine to use, but must be faded quickly or they poison the environment.
Requiring full coverage of science standards is poisoning the real learning of the actually important broader related concepts
I’m a particular sucker for Nobel Laureates and am rereading Kahenman’s Thinking Fast and Slow (2011) and just last night came to the section titled “Can Psychology be Taught?” Kahneman describes a couple different experiments where highly intelligent test subjects are taught information about a surprising psychological study result. Then they are shown completely irrelevant and boring information about some people and asked how they would act under the exact situation of the experimental condition. It turns out that the test subjects did not adjust their expectations at all to the new information. In a different test condition, however, the students were shown on video the surprising reactions of a couple specific people instead of the study results, and they actually integrated the surprising information into their analysis of the situation. To me this rings most to the power of authenticity in deep learning.
The recent rush of texts on behavioral economics center around the systemic biases that people show individually and in aggregate. And wow, there sure are quite a lot of them. These biases are exaggerated in a digital environment due to numerous factors. I have had this idea confirmed in many scenarios, but fairly recently during a twitter chat on education. One question posed to the attendees was what actual teachers do when students are not meeting classroom expectations. The question sat for I think 12 minutes and not a single person mentioned anything about any consequence. I really wanted to tweet that I have had great success with a particular boundary-testing student by having him ‘give me back’ a very small amount of time at recess, like 1 minute. I feel this is a major improvement over the common practice (during an oppositional event) of threatening a more severe consequence for this particular student, but I was too scared to tweet it. I felt it was taboo to talk about consequences, even though they are one of the few methods with proven results.
I guess I don’t think that public forums are a good place to process deep concepts. I feel the information there will be biased due to divided attention, social pressures and other effects. Tweets feel very inauthentic to me, and even if I briefly remember a piece of information from there, I am highly unlikely to incorporate it into my System 1. Schools and districts often have book clubs where new ideas are researched and explored in a live setting. I feel like this would be a much more authentic experience for exploring deep concepts.
I do feel like there is a strong benefit to semi-private professional networks, like GSC’s Facebook group. The people share a common experience, and it is possible to find good answers to specific questions quickly from people who are likely to have actually solved the question at hand personally.
Berger, J. (2016). Contagious. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
.ps After saving this, I reread the instructions for the assignment and since I’m required to post it to #OpenPed, I’m feeling quite a bit of pressure to change my conclusion. Will I be lambasted by the proponents of the benefits of doing everything in the open? I guess I’ll find out.