At Saturday’s training session, teachers heard about concepts such as the “open classroom,” a 1970s idea in which students direct themselves in activities, are rarely punished, and are expected to be self-motivated. Iraqi teachers said these gave students too much freedom. By now, most Western educators have also dismissed this concept.
More fiercely debated were concepts such as “group learning” and “peer tutoring.” These are used by many US teachers. However, their effectiveness over “lecture-listen” is still debated by scholars. Some Iraqi teachers said they would try it.
Iraqi teachers are the ultimate authority in their classrooms. In “child-centered” U.S. classrooms, students feel they’re equal to the teacher, writes Reform K12, which quotes an urban math teacher.
Just this week I had a number of 12th grade students (who had all attended the same elementary school) insist that a 40×30 rectangle was, in fact, a square. In fact, the only thing they wanted to call a rectangle was a right-angled quadrilateral with dramatically different heights and widths, like a door or a chalkboard. If the height was close to the width (like a 4:3 TV screen ratio, or even an 8.5×11 sheet of paper) they insisted it was a square.
But here’s the kicker: when I tried to actually teach the correct definition of a square, students refused to listen, because they acted like it was just my opinion.
I’ve encountered quite a few people who can’t distinguish between fact and opinion or between assertion and argument.