I've revised Downes' Induction Model of Learning schematic to incorporate my clarifications.
Specifically, I added the labeling for Teacher Effects (the top coil), Student Effects (the bottom coil), and Curriculum/Presentation Effects (the distance between the coils).
In the real world electronic circuit, current flowing through the top coil creates a magnetic field. The magnetic field affects the bottom coil (depending upon the distance between the coils and the strength of the coils) which induces a current in the bottom circuit.
The model is not without its flaws; however, I think it is useful for conveying the simple notion that knowledge is not simply pumped directly into the student's head by the teacher. Instead, the student observes the stimulus/data being presented by the teacher and induces "knowledge." Hopefully, that "knowledge" is the general idea revealed by the example(s) presented by the teacher. Often it is not.
Anyway, the important take-away revealed by this model is that teacher effects, student effects, and curriculum/presentation effects are all interrelated and affect what the student learns, doesn't learn, or imperfectly learns.
A strong teacher and an average curriculum might only be able to induce the intended knowledge in a strong student. Improving the curriculum will likely reach weaker students. Improving the student, say by fixing his tooth ache which was causing a distraction, might also improve what the student learns.
Similarly, a strong teacher and a strong student might be hampered with a very weak curriculum.
Let me make three general statements regarding teacher effects, student effects, and curriculum/presentation effects based on my observations of our education system.
Teacher Effects: We don't really know what makes a good teacher better than a bad teacher and we certainly cannot train a random teacher to be a good teacher outside the parameters of a specific curriculum. teacher unions and tenure resist changes from the status quo.
Student Effects: Have a hereditary/genetic and an environmental component, each contributing about 50%. it is politically incorrect to even discuss the hereditary/genetic component so everyone pretends that there is only an environmental component. Then everyone is surprised when environmental interventions directed to the student fail to achieve the expected benefits.
Curriculum/Presentation Effects: To a naive observer there appear to be very many different curricula out there. In actuality, most curricula are only superficially different and have little to no effect on what a student learns. The few commercially-available curricula that have large effects are generally disfavored by educators for a variety of reasons (usually unrelated to student learning)
What do you think/
Next post will discuss education reforms and how they are explainable with the above model and why it is evident that most do not stand a chance of improving student outcomes