A colleague sent me this video on TeacherTube. I have very mixed feelings about it. First, the title I find off-putting. "Want Test Scores To Go Up?" Sigh. Really? Double-sigh. I know this is the reality of our current teachers and students, but...really? Is that all we are aiming for now? No mention of teaching or learning, just a focus on the test? I don't need any big, lofty idealistic goals (although those would be nice) about teaching and learning, but how about a simple "Want Kids to Learn Fractions?" Triple-sigh.
Regardless, I think that the instructor should be lauded for trying to teach in a way that kids will find engaging -- to "speak their language", I suppose. And the comments are generally positive. The pedagogical challenge I find to this approach is that a) it seems to lack any sense of context, b) it makes some pretty strong claims (really -- you're teaching me *everything* I need to know about fractions?), and c) has absolutely no notion of transfer. Of course, I doubt this instructor is *only* using this method to teach, and skills training is important -- basic factual knowledge is a building block for deeper things. But the pedagogical approach, coupled with the title, makes me very concerned that the real goal of education is to give kids a "rap" that goes off in their heads when they see a fraction on a standardized test. So, sure, start with a rap (or better yet, let's actually see if we have evidence that the kids who get the rap learn more about the mechanics of turning fractions into percentages), but please let's not stop there. Why is a fraction the same as a percentage, and what do those things signify in our world? Let's test on that, what do you think?