I contend one of the reasons it's so hard to discover the right way to teach is the large cycle times. A cycle is the raw clock time between full trials of teaching someone who doesn't know something to mastery. When I write a computer program I chop the problem into pieces so that my cycle times are a matter of minutes. I make small tests for subtasks that I link together in a full cycle and re-run at whatever interval is convenient - sometimes several trials a minute. In between I tweak my program to pass all the tests. Full cycle times on the larger tasks rarely last over a day and if they do it's because there are competing projects that must be handled.Consider how long it would take to teach a kid clock addition. You know the rules:When the seconds hit 60, roll the seconds back to zero and add one to the minutes.When the minutes hit 60, roll the minutes back to zero and add one to the hours.When the hours hit 12 alternate a.m. with p.m. or vice versa, roll the hours back to one and add one to the day if you've alternated p.m. to a.m.When the days hit the current month limit...It would take weeks to teach a kid who doesn't know this, and have him performing to mastery - if he truely didn't know it. Even doing it Zig's way, it would take a long time. Throw in some heafty ego, unclear rules about what needs to be done and the word 'never' comes to mind.It would take me less than a day to write a clock addition program, probably less than half a day, maybe an hour.And I get paid more than teachers? Teaching is much harder than what I do. I take my hat off to the really good teachers out there. You deserve more than you get.
February 9, 2007
Large Cycle Times
Here's a good comment by Joe Kuhn I spotted on the DI listserv: