Thursday, March 26, 2015

10 reasons why ‘Hands up…’ teaching kills learning….

A teacher on Twitter today bemoaned the fact that his students don’t ask questions. I’ve also heard academics complain about the lack of critical thinking and inquiry among their students. What was absent in both instances is a lack of critical reflection on the problem. This is a teacher, not a learner problem. I’ve witnessed it in classroom observations and ask any pupil when they last experienced this behaviour and you’ll get all the evidence you need, as an old hand-me-down practice, it is still a deeply embedded behaviour in teaching. Here’s some reasons for getting rid of this practice:
Hands up
Hands up anyone who knows…..
1. The people who put their hands up usually know the answer. Asking these learners to provide an answer does nothing to improve their learning – they know it already.
2. On the other hand - this technique destroys the confidence and self-esteem of those who are not sure or don’t know the answer.
3. It excludes those who are introverts as it’s an invitation for extrovert behaviour.
4. Teachers allow far too little time for learners to think about the answer and choose someone tooquickly, demoralising those who are giving it some thought.
5. Note that most questions asked by teachers are not designed to make people really think. They are all too often quick fire questions that focus on atomic facts or names. Try this question:
A bat and ball cost £1.10.
The bat costs one pound more than the ball.
How much does the ball cost? (Answer at bottom)
This is a good question, as it really is a test of mathematical thinking but it needs time to think through before you answer. These are the questions you should not be shooting out at the whole class.
6. It can expose learners to ridicule, if the answer is way off-piste and encourages peer-pressure in the sense of exposing learners to ridicule from their class colleagues.
7. Worse of all, it conditions learners to see the learning process as one of providing correct answers to questions. It does NOT encourage students to ASK the questions or engage in critical thinking themselves.
8. If the practice of ‘Hands up…’ is thought by teachers to command attention. It actually instils in learners the fear of being exposed, that’s why most keep their heads down and don’t put their hands up.
9. Another excuse is that allows the teacher to do whoe class assessment, to know who kows and who doesn't know. First it doesn;t do this at all, many with their hands down are simply scared to answer. And if this is the reason, as we've seen above, it does more harm than good.
10. This is not active, collaborative or constructivist learning. It’s an insidious way to reinforce didactic teaching and get learners, not to think for themselves, but to fear authority.
Research from ‘The Practice of Questioning’ by James Dillon, showed that in both primary and secondary schools, children were rarely asked to come up with their own questions. One study, astonishingly, found that pupils asked only 2 questions to the teacher’s 84. Over a year, pupils were asking questions, on average, just one a month. It’s an easy ‘script’ for teachers to fall back on. But it’s illusory participation that inhibits rather than enhances learning. Teachers need to be giving a helping hand not asking for hand signals. Getting them to ask the questions wins - hands down. It’s a clear example of why seeing teaching as a practice is flawed, as that simply begs the question of what practice.

Most answer 10p but that’s why the feedback matters – 10p+110p=120p (Try again) then 5p+105p=110p.

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Fascinating! I particularly like number 7. If there's one thing we need, it's for people to ask questions and be curious.