Is questioning others and taking opposing viewpoints a bad thing?

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

  1. PrettyQueenBee

    PrettyQueenBee Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2017

    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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  2. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 14, 2017

    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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  3. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Aug 14, 2017

    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.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
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  4. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    Aug 14, 2017

    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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  5. TeacherNY

    TeacherNY Phenom

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    Aug 14, 2017

    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.
     
  6. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 14, 2017

    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?
     
  7. 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.
     
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  8. a2z

    a2z Maven

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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.
     
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  9. a2z

    a2z Maven

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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
     
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  10. 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.
     
  11. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 14, 2017

    Later I will provide links from a series of better sources when I have my computer rather than the phone. They are abundant.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  12. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 14, 2017

    OK. Now this will be easier. It is a mixture of articles.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1420798/

    http://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/as-good-as-it-gets-peer-review-and-its-discontents/

    https://www.economist.com/news/lead...it-needs-change-itself-how-science-goes-wrong

    http://www.nature.com/news/faked-peer-reviews-prompt-64-retractions-1.18202

    Regarding the previous article linked, just because it may be in a type of website you find skeptical, doesn't mean that it is out-and-out wrong. You do need to read it with skepticism and also look to see what it uses to back up its claim. We do know from the other information I have now linked that there are problems with peer-reviewed work. There has also been inability to demonstrate reproduction of psychology research, http://science.sciencemag.org/content/349/6251/aac4716 , which has all been peer-reviewed prior to determining if it the accepted conclusion was reproducible and valid.

    So, I do question the validity of peer-reviewed research because it has been shown that there is becoming more and more evidence that there is a problem with the way research is vetted.

    The other thing I want to be clear about is I said there is a lot of slanted data and studies out there. I did tie my comment specifically to peer-reviewed journals. Since most people who offer their opinion do not use peer-reviewed journals to back up their opinion, it is accurate that there is a lot of bad data out there. The media is notorious for taking a piece of research and claiming it said something it did not. People use this information to form their opinions and will use these "facts" as their proof. Very few people actually go to the pure research (which is now suspect) to back up their claims. Even then, much data that is used is cherry-picked to support a hypothesis. Studies are not well designed. Data can be manipulated or pulled out of context to support a point.
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2017
  13. a2z

    a2z Maven

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    Aug 14, 2017

    I do believe that tone and how something is challenged is often one of the key factors which will make someone get upset. For example,

    Tone is important. I agree the article I first linked was weak in academic merit. It was lazy on my part because I was replying when I probably shouldn't have been. I could have waited until I had an easier mode of communication. The response I received was not one that fosters continued cordial discussion unless the one it is said to decides to overlook the tone of the reply.

    I will admit to using less than stellar tone at times also, but it is one of the discussion killers.
     
  14. TrademarkTer

    TrademarkTer Groupie

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    Aug 14, 2017

    Is it inappropriate for me to comment "Get a room" to these two?

    Yeah, it's probably inappropriate.
     
  15. PrettyQueenBee

    PrettyQueenBee Rookie

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    Aug 14, 2017

    Since pre-calc doesn't have a state test, I can teach whatever I want out of the pre-calc book. The district made a "curriculum" for the pre-calc courses, but we all pretty much ignored it. lol For instance, I don't care for vertical shift so I never teach it. I love vectors, although they won't see it again unless they take physics (which some of my students were currently enrolled in) or Calc III in college. Also, I was strictly referring to formulas in pre-calc. The harder ones to remember: Those 2 billion trig identities, DeMoivre's Theorem, Sum & Differences Formulas, etc. But if I were teaching my geometry class, I wouldn't provide a staple formula such as the Pythagorean Theorem, LOC or LOS. Those are essential formulas that they will need to remember in Algebra II and pre-calc. You'd be surprised at the amount of students who didn't need the formula sheet, because they had so many practice problems to do, that they naturally remembered the formulas. It all makes sense. I don't have to force them to remember formulas, because after the loads of homework and assignments they automatically remember what to do/use. I feel as if you put to much pressure on them to remember formulas, not only will they forget the formulas, but they'll also forget the *why* factor. It worked for me in college, so I decided to do the same for my babies.
     

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