Thought: How many chucks can a woodchuck chuck?

Actually the question that came across my mind is “How many students in a class can a teacher teach?” This follows on my earlier idea of precision education versus accuracy education. This also connects the idea of preparing for classroom teaching with emotional intelligence and design thinking.

Let’s make this an estimation exercise.

If we define “students being taught” as those who get a C grade or better, then perhaps we could estimate that 3/5 of a class is taught successfully (Salman Khan might twitch at this point since this would mean there are a whole lot of gaps).

When I teach a Stanford class, I have a cut-off where a B or A grade means the student should be allowed to exercise that knowledge professionally. So that might be 2/5 of a class (no, not really as you have to try really hard to get a C, D or F from me).

How about we consider only the students who have negligible demonstrated gaps? Let’s say those scoring 98% or above on tests? In my experience (and depending on several circumstantial factors), that’s around 10/100 of  a class.  Or how about those who get an A+ for the class? That’s anywhere between zero and 5/100 depending on the instructor’s mood.

And if we want to look beyond the tests? How many students who complete a course could actually engage in an intellectual conversation involving the subject just after the end of the course? How about the same conversation a week, a month or a year later? Of course, the answer is “depends” but if we were to keep this to estimation, the range would be none to a few.

The idea I would like to share is about judging students for their expandability as much as expansion. A teacher’s mission should be to cultivate a wholesome love for learning and propensity for connecting one thought to another. And they should be praised for being able to accomplish these. This is a low-cost/big impact idea that falls in the “Chief Detail Officer” and “Perspectives” action items imparted to us by Rory Sutherland in his TEDTalks. As Sir Ken Robinson told us in his epic “Do Schools Kill Creativity?” – “…it’s put us in a place where we have no idea what’s going to happen in terms of the future. No idea how this may play out.”

Maybe it’s time to give teachers quizzes, homework and exams so that they can review what they have learned from their class each day…and identify the gaps.

 

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