Is questioning others and taking opposing viewpoints a bad thing?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by AlwaysAttend, Aug 9, 2017.

  1. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I've noticed an interesting phenomenon that has also been sort of covered in the media and in articles every so often.

    The first time I noticed it was on forums a lot like this. Dissenting oppinions are seen as something of an attack. Challenging ideas or the validity of solutions seen as an assault on character. In grad school I noticed people getting upset if you don't pat them on the head and acknowledge the uniqueness of their spirit and the worth of their every written word. People feel bullied and harrased by our failure to acquiesce to their beliefs and ideals.

    When did this happen? It can't be chalked up merely to the everyone gets a trophy argument can it?

    Often I notice it happens most when the depth of the argument is at it's shallowest. If someone has a great depth of knowledge on a topic they love nothing more than debating for hours on end. During family meals, over drinks with friends, or calling into their favorite sports talk show. It seems to me, if you challenge someone beyond their scope of knowledge, their guard goes up, and defenses are unleashed.

    Do others feel like this is happening? Is there a cause? Is it merely an extension of the learned helplessness we see in some of our own students, or a separate issue all together?

    Any and all thoughts or tangents welcome.

    Please don't post if you aren't willing to be challenged. In fact, lets make that the goal. At the end of your post if you like, share a thought you have that another can challenge. Even if you don't agree with it. Sometimes those are the most fun arguments to have. Here it goes:

    Students should be able to retake an assignment as many times as they wish to improve their grade.
     
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  3. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    I think it depends on the reasoning. If you have a thoughtful, articulate argument to the contrary, that's one thing. If you are stating a contrary opinion for the sake of being contrary, that doesn't do anything to improve discourse. Like in your example, I'm assuming you posted that with the assumption that it would be a controversial opinion. Therefore, shouldn't the onus be on you to provide some reasoning for the opinion?
     
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  4. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    By discourse, do you mean politeness? I ask because it absolutely adds to the conversation.

    I disagree completely. Isn't a public forum meant to be a sounding board of ideas and thoughts? How can anyone grow without being presented with differing views and ideas?

    The idea would be someone challenges my opinion and I challenge back. Otherwise known as a healthy dialogue.
     
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  5. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    If you want reasoning though, the purpose of an assessment is to assess where students are. If their ability has changed, why wouldn't we reassess. The goal is for students to achieve mastery. If they achieve mastery in March instead of January, haven't they still achieved the goal?
     
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  6. gr3teacher

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    I think you misunderstood me.

    [Controversial opinion] isn't helpful to a discussion. Whether intended or not, it's closer to being a troll.

    [Controversial opinion] because [thoughtful reasoning] is helpful. It provides context, it shows sincerity, and it gives somebody else something to work off of.

    With that said, my issue with the idea of retaking assessments indefinitely is a practical one. Should a teacher be expected to write 180 versions of each assessment? Assuming your answer to that is no, then youd agree that there needs to be a cutoff point SOMEWHERE along the line. I think a more reasonable expectation would be allowing a set number of retakes at pre-determined points (e.g. you can retake the Unit 1 test up to three times, after a series of remediation and reteaching). The goal of school should be mastery of course, but there's only one teacher in the room.
     
  7. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Any opinion that requires you to think and evaluate is beneficial. I haven't seen a lot of trolling on these forums and certainly not in the ones I have been reading lately. There is definitely one, but that person still allows you to consider their opinion and mock it if you choose.

    As to your assessment limit of 3, would you feel differently if the assessment wasn't teacher produced or graded? Let's say a school shifted the summative assessment process to a digital vender that had as many as 30 different assessment options for each skill and graded it themselves. Would you let them take it 5 times? 10 times?
     
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  8. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Im sure you've all seen this video. It's not the same issue but it's definitely in the same sphere

    The Millennial Question:


    Ps, I am a Millennial
     
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  9. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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  10. 2ndTimeAround

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    I see it in people that assume they must be polarized on every topic. Liberals that MUST believe XYZ because it is in the Liberal Man's Guidebook to Life. Conservatives that move to this side of the argument because they have to associate themselves with their group.

    It is considered, to some, weak to be middle of the road. Straddling fences means you do not stand for anything.

    I hate hypocrisy but I can have mixed emotions/thoughts about certain topics. I own them. I'll say "I strongly believe ABC, but I can see your point here, which contradicts the other."
     
  11. 2ndTimeAround

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    I disagree. I love the idea of mastery, but in my experience, this practice doesn't lead to mastery. Two things happen:

    Kids blow off the first assessment. Because they have better things to do than study and because they want a sneak peek at the assignment. My school had a policy for retakes until we saw this happen over and over. It benefited a very small number of kids. And it harmed many more. So many bad life lessons learned.

    And, multiple retakes just becomes a numbers game. Kids memorize what they got wrong and plug in the next available answer until they get it correct.

    That's all from the students' standpoints. For the teachers, it is a logistical nightmare and is so time-consuming.
     
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  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This has been my experience as well. Although in an ideal world with lofty goals and expectations, the idea of unlimited opportunities for success sounds great, it doesn't work in actual practice. Not in my experience, anyway.

    To the topic of this thread, I find it interesting. A person could scroll back to, say, the thread about being accused of assault to see these dynamics at play. Other threads have gone down a similar path. I've even seen threads where one rather popular member says a controversial thing or something not in line with the majority opinion on the thread, another not-so-popular member says the exact same thing, and people pile onto the not-so-popular member while ignoring the popular one. It's an intriguing phenomenon to be sure.
     
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  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    But what happens between January and March when the content being addressed requires mastery of the January stuff? Students can't master the February and March stuff if it relies upon the January stuff.

    Expand that to include bigger ranges, which this practice certainly does, and you can see the problems. If a student masters reading in the 7th grade instead of 1st grade, haven't they achieved the goal? Well, sure, in a way. But they missed a lot of stuff in grades 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 while they couldn't read.
     
  14. greendream

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    For me, it's all about time and place.

    I used to work with a guy who liked to stir up heated political and religious debates during lunch. He wasn't closed-minded or aggressive--he was quite thoughtful and respectful of people's opinions. I'm not averse to such discussions, but after a while I felt like, "Dude, I have 22 minutes to consume my lunch between classes. I just can't handle it right now." So I avoided the lounge most of the time.
     
  15. 2ndTimeAround

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    To what end though? Do we go back and change kids' 4th grade math scores because a child has mastered the material in 7th grade?

    In an ideal world, each student would have individual time frames for assessment. Public schools could act like homeschooling - only test when a child has already demonstrated mastery and let everyone work at his own pace. But we do not have the resources that would allow for each child to have a private tutor.
     
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  16. 2ndTimeAround

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    I have zero faith in an outside vendor creating such an assessment. I would consider using a service like this for formative evaluations. I spend a lot of time designing my tests because I want them just so.
     
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  17. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Love all the discussion posts! Exactly what I was hoping for!

    What if you had a flexible grouping system in your school. Placement based on ability. Would it be any more feasible since kids couldn't test out until they achieved mastery. Maybe even in a smaller population like basic skills.

    As far as assessing throughout the year, based on posts from above my mind went to elementary reading assessments. What is the most you would test a student in one year? Everyone would obviously do the mandated checks, but if warranted, would you test more freequently for one or more students? You know, in the perfect school with free subs to watch the class while you test haha.
     
  18. AlwaysAttend

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  19. Mshope2012

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    Interesting question. I like to argue with people. (I think I should have been a lawyer!) However, I am not adverse to changing my mind or seeing both sides of the argument. (Okay, maybe I would have been a terrible lawyer.) I think some people just regurgitate what they hear from others or on tv. with no real basis for why they believe what they do.

    At my school, we have to give as many retests as the student (or parents) want. At the high school level, this has led to many students taking advantage of the system to improve their GPA. Also, there have been multiple cases of a student taking a re-do or re-test for PREVIOUS quarters. I like the theory behind this, but in reality teachers end up making the tests easier so kids pass the first time. We also seem to use an inordinate amount of "cheat-sheets" and test aids. The result of these growth mindset can be students entering college completely unprepared for deadlines or the inability to retake a test. Many teachers (and some parents) have argued with these policies, but administration won't hear any debate. I think they would really like to get rid of grade altogether.
     
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  20. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Why not get rid of grades all together and make it pass fail? After all, you can either do the work of you can't. With an education designed to be one size fits all based on the idustrial complex mindset, shouldn't that be the assessment model anyway?
     
  21. Mshope2012

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    To AlwaysAttend, we do have several classes that are pass/fail. However, when students have actually failed, they pass them anyway. There is no accountability at all.

    Also, in reality, the only motivation most of our students have are their grades. If something isn't graded, kids tend to blow it off or not turn it in. For example, we can't grade homework so some students don't bother to do it, fail the test, and then get to retest. This is more an issue in math. Also, our parents think their kids are geniuses because they get almost all A's. It is a big shock if the student transfers school districts! A disturbing trend that I have noticed is that when we get a student from a "better" district, the student starts out strong and then declines to unmotivated level of many of our students. I feel like I could motivate my students more if they knew that they could actually "fail" and not get a free pass.
     
  22. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I think most districts that change their hw policies to no more than 5% or no hw policies see that reaction to hw or non credit assignments.

    I think the truth is, with such a liberal retake policy, (clasical defintion of the word, no political context), grades need to become meaningless, thus the pass/fail. Otherwise how could you compare an A achieved on the first test or on the 5th test.

    Think of all the teacher test takers who we see on this board who repeatedly fail praxis. Once they pass, their result is just as good as us who passed the first time. How many districts asked how many times you took the praxis?
     
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  23. jadorelafrance

    jadorelafrance Cohort

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    THis is a summative test taken at the very end of your study (either before or during student teaching), that is cumulative of everything you have learned your entire student career. It's high stakes. It also only is a portion of the requirement for credential (coursework, internship, other previous assessments, etc.). There's also penalties for not passing the first time (delayed credential/student teaching, unable to get into a class, etc.). Law students have to take the bar (and many don't pass the first time) in order to practice law.
     
  24. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    I'd hardly compare the Bar Exam or even the LSAT to the Praxis. It's a lot closer to the GED than the Bar exam.

    But I'll play anyway. Should schools offer a cumulative test option as well? In some places they offer a portfolio graduation for students who can't pass required state exams. Should students have the option to test out at the beginning of every course? You can do it in many college courses. I know you take (EDIT I MEAN TESTS NOT CLASSES) classes for placement in math in hs. Shouldn't kids get credits for the classes they skip and finish early?

    There is already a way to test out of high school entirely early and I mentioned it earlier. The GED.
     
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  25. AlwaysAttend

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  26. futuremathsprof

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    AlwaysAttend, I absolutely agree with your original post. You hit the nail on the head. ;)

    I have also noticed on here that some posters will, for example, complain about having to pass a test and say that they shouldn't have to pass a COMPETENCY test to become a teacher. :confused:

    I'm like, seriously?! You should have to demonstrate what you know. State licensure agencies can't just take you at your word that you know it. There needs to be state standards for all educators across the board, regardless of educational background.

    Their response is usually along the lines of, "Passing a test doesn't make you a good teacher." Um, yeah, but that is not what the test is designed to do. *It is designed to test your knowledge of the subject matter.* If you can't pass it, then you haven't yet mastered the material.

    This probably will rile up those posters that I mentioned, but so be it. :cool:

    Edit: I will say that I don't care how many times that it takes you to pass the test. If you pass on the fifth try or whatever, then you have shown that you know the material well. All I care is that you pass. The number of attempts does not matter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2017
  27. PrettyQueenBee

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    Very interesting topic. My school district has a retake policy set in place, but there's a busload of stipulations:

    Retakes are only for "critical subjects" (their words, not mine) such as English, math and science. I think they picked these subjects because there's so many state tests in these subjects. There's no limit on retakes, so students are allowed to retake until they pass. Homework and quizzes count a lot in our district though.

    Speaking of, students must show steady progress in other assignments. Absences from school need to be accounted for. After this is checked by guidance, the student must fill out a retake form and have their parent(s) sign it. The retake cannot be conducted during school hours, so they will need to stay after 2:15 PM. I can't tell you how many teachers in the district hate the retake policy. I'm pretty neutral on it.

    A lot of math teachers give the same test, but switch it up the numbers (which is smart in my opinion). It's easy to memorize the answer to: "What is the reference angle of sin 5pi/3?" But what if I switched the numbers and asked you for the reference angle of cos 7pi/6? Or -21pi/4 (this one would require an extra step)? Yes, they are different questions, but the process of finding a reference angle will never change.
     
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  28. Mshope2012

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    To PrettyQueenBee, our policy is not written down anywhere. It is communicated to us from the central administration. There has been a lot of confusion when teachers try to put any type of stipulation or limits on it. Basically, we are told that we are not teaching responsibility, only content. So we also don't have homework that can be graded or deadlines. Taking off points for late work can get a teacher in trouble, if a parent complains. However, in reality, my students would turn every assignment in the day before grades are due, if we let them. As you can imagine, teachers have fought some of these policies to hold students accountable and were shot down. If they had the policy in writing somewhere it would clear things up, but it never it. I guess so admin. can change it up to keep parents happy.

    The math teachers really have the hardest time because kids might want to take a retest the day before the quarter ends. A lot of times the student also fails the retest because they have done no studying or tutoring before the test. I like your school policy a lot better.
     
  29. a2z

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    The biggest issue I see with retakes is that it is just shoved into a system of education not designed for content mastery. It makes it difficult to try to work two systems at once. Then there is the difference in attitude regarding how fast students learning content as a measure of competence.
     
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  30. PrettyQueenBee

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    Oh wow, I would hate working under those conditions. We are absolutely allowed to take off points for late assignments or projects. There's no magical number, so it's at a teacher's discretion if we want to take off 10 or 20 points for lateness. The district tries to preach accountability for all parties involved. If a student doesn't show their work, but gets the right answer- I can give half credit (or no credit) and I won't get in trouble. If a student is failing math, science, or English, we have something called "intervention" where the student has to attend school for 2 hours after school. It's kind of like a mixture of tutoring and night school. If a student earned an F, we can give them one with no problems. But if there's a certain percentage of students failing your class, the district WILL be contacting you. We had a physics teacher get walking papers over failing a lot of students. Our policies aren't perfect, but for the most part they side with their teachers. We are absolutely allowed to alter versions of our retakes. I've always wondered how English and science teacher altered theirs? Math is super easy to alter for obvious reasons.

    And I always make sure to let my retakers know that this policy won't exist in college. In college, if you made a 50 on an exam, it sticks and the professor moves on. The *MOST* a professor will do is drop the lowest test score. And not every professor does that. Students must learn some responsibility and be held accountable. Luckily, our district supports this.
     
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  31. AlwaysAttend

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    It's surprising to me whenever I hear someone trying to impress others with how hard their class is by how many students they fail. Sounds like your school is better off without that person.
     
  32. PrettyQueenBee

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    Not to sound ugly, but trust me the school was better off without that teacher. I taught pre-calc last year. One of the topics I had in common with that teacher's class was Vectors. We also had a lot of the same students. When I taught vectors, they told me they understood it better in my class. But when they went to the AP physics, they didn't understand it. I didn't like hearing that. But the teacher was a former college professor with a PhD in physics, so I think they were trying to "send a message." These are high school students! I'm not saying dumb down the curriculum (because I definitely don't), but I feel like we must make learning enjoyable. It's all about having that balance. Once a student gets into pre-calc (or higher), it's about knowing *why* they're applying this formula or that formula. But I don't force them to memorize formulas. On tests, I have a formula sheet ready for them or I'll write them on the board. I'm not trying to breed a bunch of androids in my class. lmao! What good does it do to memorize a busload of formulas if you don't know *how* to use them or *why* you're using them? As the "baby teacher" of the mathematics department working with a bunch of older mathematicians, the majority felt like I was pacifying my pre-calc class. I've had countless debates with some of them. But a lot of my students went on to AP calc and passed their tests, so obviously I did something right. ;-)
     
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  33. TrademarkTer

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    Interesting take with the formulas. My general philosophy is, if I show you where it comes from, you have to memorize it. If I don't, then you don't. For instance, I derive in class the quadratic formula, the Law of Cosines, several of the formulas for sequences and series, several of the basic trig identities etc. These they must memorize. The idea is, if you don't remember it, well you can always derive it : ) If the formula is not one I derive in class, such as the compound interest formula, then I'll provide it.

    Also we used to teach vectors in precalculus, but we all agreed to knock it off and let the physics teachers take those.
     
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  34. Obadiah

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    Concerning the original argument, I agree, we need discussion, both pros and cons, in order to grow. When we're discussing education, education is science, and as a recent editorial in my local paper commented, science is not exact. The very nature of science is that it is peer reviewed and constantly changing.

    It's also good to have beliefs, even strong beliefs, even to be convinced that one is right in those beliefs; without such conviction, many advancements would never have occurred. I just recently read about the newer programming method for artificial intelligence, how no one accepted that person's ideas, but that person's ideas eventually became the standard for such programming. It's OK to be right, but it's also OK to be wrong.

    Today, however, and perhaps throughout human history (?), many people feel threatened by listening to another's ideas. It seems as if the current media is playing to this. One side has a list of beliefs and the other side has another list. The ideology becomes established that all of side A's beliefs are absolute and all of side B's beliefs are falsehood. This is DANGEROUS! This gives too much power to side A. This ideology allows side A to add additional questionable beliefs that can no longer be questioned. If side A's disciples must adhere to side A's complete philosophy, then to disagree is heresy, and side A becomes despotic.

    So, not only on forums such as this, but especially in our classrooms, polite discussion and disagreement should be encouraged, not condemned. The first day of school, even elementary school, I always tell the students that we are allowed to disagree with each other; they are even allowed to disagree with me. Of course we also discuss how to politely disagree rather than futilely or rudely argue. We need to prepare students to be open minded thinkers.
     
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  35. AlwaysAttend

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    Since you bring up Science, I must also point out that the NGSS expects students to learn to argue in a professional way. It's going to be hard to do that if the adults don't feel capable of participating.
     
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  36. TeacherNY

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    I think things go downhill when people accuse others of being WRONG even though something might be their opinion on a topic. If it is their opinion then I can see how saying they are wrong can upset them. Just because your opinion isn't the same doesn't mean it's wrong. There are just certain people who take certain "sides" all the time and it's quite tiresome so I usually just take everything with a few grains of salt.
     
  37. a2z

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    You are going to be upset because I think that your opinion is wrong. Opinions can be wrong. Opinions are based off of a viewpoint or argument. Sometimes it is based off of a feeling, but almost everyone has some "fact" to justify their opinion. Those "facts" can be completely inaccurate or one rare example could be used to generalize to determine the final opinion. There are opinions that lurk in the grey areas where there is information supporting many sides. Many of these opinions (on both sides) are supported with less than strong "facts" which are often presented as data that has been cherry-picked by those wanting to make a specific case then used by others to support their opinions. There is so much of this slanted data and studies floating around that most opinion is biased.

    Also, many people get upset even if you say you disagree with their opinion and state a differing argument. They also see this as saying they are wrong because anything but agreement shows that their opinion is not accurate (or in other words wrong). I think mostly that people get angry when they can't adequately defend their position. Then they devolve into anger, deflection, and name calling in order to mask the lack of supporting information or lack of additional supporting information.

    I don't understand the idea of "sides". Are you stating that some people dig their heels in despite what you believe as supporting information that indicates otherwise?
     
  38. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Aug 14, 2017

    The only thing I would disagree with is the idea of many examples of slanted data and studies floating around. I would say with anything, the source matters. There aren't many peer reviewed journals posting slanted data.

    Those examples don't often find their way into legitimate publications. The easiest one I can think of off the top of my head would be the vaccine study from England that was later admitted to being fraud (though that still hasn't changed the minds of many).

    In education, the studies usually are based on studies that came before with a track record to follow. Usually when people disagree with these studies it isn't for researched back reasons, usually it's their anecdotal experience. For example, a literacy strategy which shows promise in a suburban setting might be dismissed by a reader from an urban classroom because "that wouldn't work in my room". There's no science that backs this up (yet), but it is considered gospel by the person saying it.
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  39. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Aug 14, 2017

    In a system not designed for mastery, this method adds work for teachers. It also can be implemented poorly to cut down the work then giving students more ways to game the system.

    I do believe in student mastery, and that is not obtained by the previous teach, review, and test method where if students got it great, if not there wasn't much more done and it was on the student to figure out how to learn the material that still wasn't mastered, usually on their own. In this method the student is almost always blamed for the lack of learning.

    When faced with measures of accountability on teachers, teachers will almost all stand as a whole professing that students learn at different rates. Not every student will be able to master the content at the same pace or with the same information. So, why is it that when we have a 3 week timeframe to teach a topic, review, and test, it then becomes the student's fault they didn't master the material?

    I don't believe in a system of retakes where there is no additional instruction for the student and no measures a student must take prior to a retake. Without instruction that implementation almost always encourages a student to take the original test as a preview of what is needed, except for those with easy mastery of the material who don't want to be bothered taking it again. I do believe in creating a system that helps students master material, especially the basics. Students need to be able to read well, comprehend language well, write well, and calculate and apply math well in order to have the ability to have flexibility in life after school. Some kids will take longer than others to learn this material, but the current system is set up to demoralize those who can't keep pace and to put them in their societal place by those who learn easier. They are blamed for their failing to fit in the artificial structure created to educate them.

    Are retakes the solution? In a system that is designed to present, review, and measure and move on, I see it as the only option available to encourage mastery if implemented properly, but I do see it as a method that is a Band-Aid rather than a real solution to the educational problems we have in our country.
     
    futuremathsprof likes this.
  40. a2z

    a2z Virtuoso

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    Aug 14, 2017

    We will just have to disagree for now.

    At present, researchers and journals across the globe are looking for ways to eliminate the implicit bias that has been found in peer-reviewed research. They have found that there is bias when someone who is reviewing agrees with the hypothesis, the author is well-known or respected, the location of the research is well-known or respected, and other forms of bias.

    Here is an interesting article and many more can be found about the problems of peer-reviewed research and the errors.

    http://theweek.com/articles/618141/big-science-broken
     
    Obadiah likes this.
  41. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Aug 14, 2017

    Umm, the article is one click removed from a Religious organization... Do they do much detailed scientific research there or just criticize actual scientists? If a student submitted such a source I think we'd ask them to determine if that was a legitimate source for the topic at hand.

    I'm all for religion and am a practicing Catholic. I don't consult the Pope on scientific research. Mainly because he didn't study science, he studied religion.
     

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