Posted by: thebylog | October 28, 2005

Pedagogical Considerations

Pedagogy. n.
1. The art or profession of teaching.
2. Preparatory training or instruction.

Basic in the teaching endeavor should be a commitment to teach the truth. That seems evident enough.

However, consider the following.

You’re teaching an introductory-level statistics class. Ninety-five percent of the students in the class don’t care. The only reason they are taking the course at all is because “they need it for their major.” Further, by its nature as a survey course in essential statistical concepts and methodology, there is a lot of material presented. It is difficult to absorb all the information.

In a class such as this, concepts are streamlined and simplified to make them less confusing and more easily understood.

Thus, there are instances in which the express truth is not told because to tell it would only serve to confuse the issue. These are cases in which the principle which is taught is true, except in exceptional cases. These exceptional cases certainly don’t concern the casual student and really don’t cloud the bigger concept being taught. But, strictly speaking, they are not true because they fail in some instances.

How should the instructor approach such an issue?

My opinion is this: it would be easy enough, it seems, when explaining some such concept to include a vague caveat that allows the truth to flourish yet is not specific enough to confuse the students.

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Responses

  1. Would this be one place where the phrase “as a general rule” could/should be used? At least it SOUNDS easy enough to someone like me.

    The Baritone

  2. I’m catching up on your blog. I have a comment regarding your church experience and a question you posed:

    “God is the God of justice – so shouldn’t we fight for it?”

    What is just for one often is not just for another. Are we God that we can choose whose version of justice to fight for? (By fight, I am meaning physical force not doing and promoting good for all to the best of our abilities without the use of force.)

  3. Someday when you have a 4-year-old who asks, “Does God have blue eyes or brown eyes?” you will go nuts if you think too much about the express truth, exceptional cases, etc etc.

  4. TB – I agree.

    rosie! – I suppose that if the “justice” we’re fighting for isn’t clearly defined at a higher level than us (i.e. by God, in Scripture), then we should be careful. But if God thinks it’s just … like civil rights for instance.

    Dorcas – I guess I’ll just have to wait and see. Don’t smart 4 year old’s know what “usually” means? I think you could get around this problem with them too, couldn’t you?

  5. Byran–some 4-year-olds are blessed with Smucker logic and therefore understand generalities, explanations, exceptions, conclusions, and concepts.
    Then there are the 4-year-olds who are convinced that God’s eyes are either blue or brown, and they want to know which one. That’s it. Nothing else outside that little box.

  6. Gosh, too bad all kids aren’t smuckers. . . not.


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