Critical ThinkingHigher Education

Should colleges and universities require students to take courses on diversity?

Here at UCLA, we faculty voted some months ago to add a “diversity” course requirement for graduation.  Such a course could be taken from any number of departments on campus, as long as the course substantially addressed issues of diversity in cultures (everything from literature to religion), human populations, behaviors …

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Critical ThinkingCross-postEducationUncategorized

Sophisticated Educators, Please Stand Up

People have been talking about false dichotomies in math education forever, it seems. And so have I (as long as you think of seven years ago as “forever”). And so has Professor David Clarke! His paper, titled Using International Research to Contest Prevalent Oppositional Dichotomies, was published in 2006, and …

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Critical ThinkingEducationPrimary EducationScience

Tackling Science Project Turmoil

Science Fairs can sometimes get a bad rap. As a recent viral image illustrates, these school projects are often met with dread by students, families, and yes – even teachers. But I’d like to propose that science projects – done properly – are a valuable tool in teaching children how …

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Woman in front of mirror with towel on her head.
Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogy

Teaching Topless

I’d like to share a really nice presentation below by Valerie Otero, professor of science education, and Edd Taylor, assistant professor of math education, both with the University of Colorado at Boulder. And then I’ll bother you with some thoughts about it.   The unifying theme here is the pyramid …

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A row of cups that look like faces.
Critical ThinkingEducationPedagogy

You Cannot Not Have Conceptual Understanding

In education, we seem to take some delight in shoveling a confused mix of folksy connotations into sciencey-shelled words and phrases. Some of my colleagues would call the result edujargon, though I think that word allows us to feel too smug about our own obtuseness—as though the problem is that …

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Critical ThinkingPrimary Education

About those viral Common Core problems

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably seen one of those viral posts on social media presenting a (seemingly) ridiculous common core math problem, and possibly even a frustrated parent responding with some kind of exasperated takedown. Like this one. (Also pictured) It is super tempting, especially for those of …

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Critical ThinkingCultureEducationScience

Communicating science

This morning, the main site’s quickies had a link to how science stories are often illustrated with some attention grabbers that misrepresent the actual content of the study being described.  This reminded me of an incident when a new faculty member in our Communication department was introducing herself to the …

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Dorchester High School Science
Critical ThinkingEducationHigher EducationPedagogy

Active learning as get-out-of-teaching?

A recent article in the Chronicle highlighted the growing shift toward student- or learner-centered teaching in higher education.  The idea is that rather than a professor lecture to a passive audience who soak up the wisdom of the sage on the stage, the class is structured around activities and discussion …

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Critical ThinkingEducationLesson PlansPedagogy

Teaching the nuance of “wrong”

I teach children aged 12-15.  This borderland between childhood and adulthood is filled with both physical and mental upheavals. Mentally it is a transition from thinking in a concrete manner to thinking in a more abstract and nuanced manner.  Into this quagmire I step boldly and try to teach science …

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Detail from title page of J.S. Bach's Well-tempered Clavier
Critical ThinkingCultureHigher Education

Wikipedia 1, U Chicago News Office 0.

I was browsing my news feed today when I came across the following video, posted by the University of Chicago’s News Office.   Since I’m about to get very critical, let me first talk briefly about the things Cheng does well in this video: 1) She gives a mostly understandable …

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