Reflections on the Dynamics of Teaching


Action-Reaction: Reflections on the dynamics of teaching is the blog of Frank Noschese, a physics teacher in New York State. Although it covers a broad range of topics, the blog stands out for its nuanced and compelling takes on how technology can best enhance learning and where such controversial and buzzed-about tools as the Khan Academy fit into this picture.

In “Disrupt This: My Challenge to Silicon Valley,” Noschese states that “the real stumbling block to meaningful change is students” formal reasoning skills—analytical thinking that cannot be cultivated by pausing and rewinding video or playing Math Blasters.” He cites current ed-tech trends—”skill and drill apps, self-paced learning, badges, YouTube videos, socially-infused learning management systems, or electronic textbooks”—as too focused on the “invention” phase of learning and not enough on the “application” phase, where original thinking occurs.

He goes on to cite several technology tools he feels are moving in the right direction: PhET simulations, for example, which “[allow] students to conduct open-ended planetary orbit experiments that would be impossible in real life.” There’s much more in this vein on Action-Reaction—”Khan Academy Criticism” is a tag featured on the site’s banner—but it’s truly constructive and thoughtful, when so much of the discussion tends toward the reactive and reductive.