My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Thursday, May 5, 2016

Notes on the Computer, Notes by Hand

As I've mentioned elsewhere, my wife listens to Doujo Youzo every morning.

This morning, he picked up something the Wall Street Journal also has (finally) picked up on recently. (Not sure but what he got it from the WSJ or from one of the Japanese newspapers that follows the WSJ. I wasn't listening when the conversation started.)

When you take notes by hand, you remember more than when you take them by PC.

That should be obvious. Really.

You can take more notes on your laptop or even your tablet without losing concentration on the lecture or presentation, but the interface is too narrow, the form too structured. You won't retain it as well as if you took the notes by hand.

The promise of the early Macintosh apps (or Alan Kay's Dynabook concept) has yet to be fulfilled.

There's a reason for that, too.

But there's one more step in this discussion. There were many courses I took better notes in when I did not take notes, or when I took very sparse notes.

Much of that had to do with preparation.

When I was prepared, I spent most of the lecture time testing the professor's presentations against my own opinions and understanding. That's the stuff I retained. That's the stuff I took home with me to work on.

When I was not prepared, I was basically either trying to record the lecture in my notebook (the absolute worst way to take notes, and the most common way among intermediate level students) or struggling desperately to leave trail markers for myself which I then went home and found myself counter-motivated to search through during the semester. (After the semester, those trailmarkers often proved valuable.)

The PC and the tablet, as note-taking devices, are highly structured. That means it's easy to go into record mode and just dump stuff direct from your ears and eyes to the hard disk.

But it is creating the structures that you create when you take thoughtful notes by hand that leaves the structures in your mind that make it possible to find the information again.

(There's a lot more to say about this, Unicode inheriting certain rigidities from ASCII, the general problem of pixels vs. arcs, the problem of arc recognition which the problem of text recognition inherits, the many problems of voice recognition the pigeon-hole structure of relational databases, ... .

I don't have time for this rant, darn it. And it's a favorite rant, too. Want to translate even this much to Japanese, but I definitely don't have time for that. It takes me at least as much time to translate as to write, still.

And I note that this all has a bit to do with English education in Japan, too -- the too highly structured nature of their approach to education:

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