I hope you'll find the next 40 minutes useful.
July 20, 2021 10:14 AM   Subscribe

"We know as much about teaching and learning as we do about public health. The difference is most of us don't know how much we know. By the time you finish high school you know what vitamins are, what germs are, and where babies come from. You probably don't know similar basic facts about how people learn and how best to teach them." - Greg Wilson, author of Teaching Tech Together (among other things, and in the blue previously) takes 40 minutes to sum up what everyone in technology should know about teaching and learning.
posted by mhoye (16 comments total) 61 users marked this as a favorite
By the time you finish high school you know what vitamins are, what germs are, and where babies come from.

When I was in high school, the teacher of the "Health" class (a one-semester course that covered sex-ed and basic hygiene, but also, weirdly, outdoor survival) insisted to a class full of students that "bacteria are plants." As such, I remain unsure whether we ought to be taking anything for granted as universally understood.
posted by belarius at 11:08 AM on July 20 [14 favorites]

Link to text material for people who don't watch 40-minute YouTube videos.

Also: By the time you finish high school you know [...] where babies come from. [citation needed, offer void where prohibited by law]
posted by spacewrench at 11:27 AM on July 20 [16 favorites]

I've been reading Wilson's work for years and now we know each other - he even served as a beta tester when I recently wrote and performed some software-centric stand-up comedy. I am looking forward to watching this talk, and I recommend Teaching Tech Together to ANYONE who has even a little bit of interest in learning and teaching outside of traditional educational institutions.
posted by brainwane at 11:36 AM on July 20 [6 favorites]

A caveat: experienced educators may experience Wilson as condescending, and taking credit inappropriately for "discovering" a lot of research and praxis by other people.

I know I sure do. I'm Carpentries-certified, and found the process of certification hair-tearingly boring and frustrating because it assumes everyone who teaches in the Carpentries has plenty of subject knowledge but starts from zero teaching experience or pedagogy knowledge.

Which is... exactly the sort of unwarranted assumption about learners that one would think Wilson would examine and rethink, but nope.

tl;dr Wilson drives me all the way around the bend, but YMMV.
posted by humbug at 12:00 PM on July 20 [12 favorites]

I've only watched the first ~7 minutes so far, but the video is worth it even if all it had in it was the shout-out to Dunning-Kruger and the graph relating confidence to expertise (about 1:25 in).

In short: extremely high confidence in your opinions on a particular topic means you fall into one of two regions on the graph. You're either a fairly ignorant novice (and also ignorant of how ignorant you are), or you are a highly skilled expert on the subject.

If anyone says "I've done a lot of research on the Internet" to support their views, guess which category they likely fit in...
posted by darkstar at 12:01 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]

I hate that in this context (and in so many others) "tech" is IT and programming and computer-based stuff, whereas traditionally "tech" was carpentry and auto mechanics and welding and drafting and electronics (yes, I know that's the biggest point of crossover). I'm not saying we shouldn't be teaching the former, but by pushing that latter, older definition of "tech" aside, it's sidelining students (and teachers) who have other, more hands-on skills to impart.
posted by sardonyx at 1:00 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]

I've found Greg Wilson's work to be solidly useful for a long time now. He's got great and caring ideas, and does something about them. Someone else who thinks and writes well about how people write code is Derek Jones https://shape-of-code.coding-guidelines.com/

disclaimer: Greg Wilson reviewed my first book, years and years ago
posted by mdoar at 1:01 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]


Dunning-Kruger may not be all that true.

Thanks for the link to the transcript.
posted by Nancy Lebovitz at 2:11 PM on July 20 [6 favorites]

That was an interesting video, sort of like a more practical TED talk.

No idea who Wilson is, but FWIW I did not notice arrogance in it, and it didn't seem to be grabbing any credit for much of anything at all.
posted by fleacircus at 2:56 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]

I liked it. As a teacher of 17 years experience, who has had some experience of teacher training, I thought it introduced, in clear and simple ways, many of the things that I’d want a trainee teacher to know. If your role involves teaching/training people, you could do a lot worse than listen to this
posted by stanf at 4:24 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]

I've taken courses with Greg, and he's usually much more animated than this. But the message is very solid.
posted by scruss at 5:34 PM on July 20 [1 favorite]

Nobody in any school I attended K-12 told us where babies come from. Well, no adults employed by the schools, anyway. There was lots of discussion on the playground and in the locker room. (The only difference in the Baptist school was we whispered more discreetly.)
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:55 PM on July 20

I recently wrote and performed some software-centric stand-up comedy.

Do go on...
posted by Literaryhero at 7:39 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]

We know as much about teaching and learning as we do about public health.

I have a sense that we know about as much about teaching and learning as we do nutrition, which is to say we have lots of research and limited success in piecing it all together into a lasting consensus.
posted by atoxyl at 10:51 PM on July 20 [2 favorites]

The Dunning-Kruger slide bugged me as well. While it’s certainly true that self-assessments can be way off the mark for tools, people under representing their skills can be as much of a problem as over-representing. You could state the same end result (people are often wrong about their true facility with a tool) without using the pop science.
posted by q*ben at 9:52 AM on July 21 [1 favorite]

Learned valuable things from this video. Bought his book. Thanks for the post, mhoye!
posted by FallibleHuman at 2:13 PM on July 21

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