Science or Art

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a speculative analogy - how is teaching like building a birchbark canoe?

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Science or Art

  1. 1. Is Learning a Science or an Art?<br />
  2. 2. Characteristics of science:<br />Systematic<br />Replicable<br />Reliable<br />Standardized<br />Measurable with accuracy<br />
  3. 3. Characteristics of art:<br />Individualized<br />Unique<br />Hand-crafted<br />idiosyncratic<br />
  4. 4. Analogy: building a canoe<br />Need to make cedar ribs<br />
  5. 5. Cut on a saw<br /><ul><li>Uniform dimension but does not take into account particular characteristics of each piece of wood
  6. 6. Knots, cracks, weaknesses</li></li></ul><li>Split by hand<br />Can adapt to peculiarities of each piece<br />But more time consuming and less consistent dimensions<br />
  7. 7. Question:<br />Is consistent dimension the most important measure of a canoe rib?<br />Or are flexibility and durability more important?<br />
  8. 8. Apply the analogy to students<br />What are the most important qualities students will have on completion of a unit/course/program?<br /><ul><li>What functions should they be able to perform under what conditions?</li></li></ul><li>How critical are undetected weaknesses?<br />Will the student float?<br />Survive the rapids?<br />
  9. 9. How important are the precise dimensions of the canoe to its ability to function successfully?<br />It must have sufficient length, depth, width and shape to carry its intended passengers and cargo, but there are many suitable variations<br />
  10. 10. Does the way we design courses, classrooms and assessment allow for this variability?<br /><ul><li>Or do we push everything through a pre-set jig and expect to discard a certain percentage as substandard and unusable?</li></li></ul><li>The factory model<br />Groups of students<br />Common curriculum<br />Scheduled time/duration<br />Standardized exams<br />Focus on acquisition of a common set of facts/knowledge/skills<br />Time is fixed, level of success is variable<br />
  11. 11. The artisan model<br />Pre-assessment<br />Individual projects<br />Office hours (personal contact)<br />Focus on development of interest, unique abilities<br />Time required to achieve success is variable<br />

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