Thursday, March 18, 2010

Unscrupulous, Or Incompetent?

click to enlarge

Teachers will recognize this picture--found in the margins of the teacher's edition of a textbook it's supposed to be a "helpful hint" on how to teach a particular topic, how to recognize common errors, or, in this case, how to tailor the lesson to reach particular types of students.

The picture above comes from the Algebra 1 textbook my district uses, and the hint is supposed to give me a suggestion on how to reach "kinesthetic learners" (we'll save for another time whether or not such a thing even exists). Does anyone want to take a stab at defending how pushing buttons on a calculator is any more "kinesthetic" than pushing a pencil across the paper?

I've come across such machinations before. I've seen textbooks with rubrics that supposedly align individual lessons with state standards, only to look up those standards myself and find no correlation at all! And in the case above the publisher can tout "teaching to multiple intelligences" or some other such nonsense, even though anyone with at least two operational brain cells can tell the statement is complete and total crap.

So. Unscrupulous, or incompetent? I know where the smart money's being bet.


PeggyU said...

I have a textbook here that is intended to let students discover principles by discussing problems in study groups. Not a fan of that approach, though it must cater to one of those intelligences of which you speak. Is there a "herd" intelligence?

Mrs. Widget said...

I would argue that its not kinesthetic, that _doing_ it is different from "understanding".

I encourage my classes to practice practice practice. I tell them "your hand will start writing before you know what the problem is.

Forest said...

Unfortunately it seems that textbooks try to look good rather than be good.

They say this about digital cameras. That manufacturers try to put as many features as they can on the box, even if those features are poorly executed or even detract from the performance of the camera because their goal is to sell it above everything else.

It seems though this tactic should only sell the product once at most while the well made camera...or textbook has a better chance of being purchased again and again.

PS I don't believe in most of the multiple intelligences stuff anyway. Education latched on to it like it was the gospel.

Steve USMA '85 said...

Why can't it be both?