At a six-hour PD I had the misfortune of having to attend, the moderator put this slide on the screen in a defense against the call for evidence that certain teaching practices are effective. It was a slide from a presentation by David Theriault, who teaches English and has a blog:
Essentially, Mr. Theriault felt that the question about having research to back up a practice was irritating. What he calls research is what he sees in the classroom. I’ve heard it many times before in a “It works for me” type defense.
Well, traditionally taught math worked for me, but I’m fairly certain the moderator of the PD as well as Theriault and others would not find that acceptable.
The PD was full of the usual platitudes that “worksheets are bad, experiential learning is good”. The penultimate task of the day had us drawing specific geometric figures using a computer language that we had to figure out without instruction. The person next to me was familiar with the language so he taught it to me, using direct and explicit instruction. Others learned in the same way. The moderator was very pleased with the fact that we learned from each other rather than from him since he seemed to think it proved his point that teachers should facilitate what is supposedly innate in students. Except for the fact that this wasn’t innate; the person who taught it to me learned it the old fashioned way.
We then had to construct a one-page lesson plan on any topic. My partner for this task was a woman from a neighboring school who, like me, taught math in middle school. I suggested a plan to teach why the invert and multiply rule works for fractional division. She got hung up on providing a context for division. I couldn’t get beyond her hang-up and reminded her we only had a few minutes left. Time ran out, and she got into a conversation with the moderator about her hang-up and I left.
The teachers at my school never talked about that PD, and I notice they never asked the moderator back.
I offer you this as one of a continuing series of bad PD that infiltrates our education system.