Now Wait Just a Flippin’ Minute!

(Full disclosure:  This blog post was inspired by reading Flipping for the Flipped Classroom Seems To Be the Trend but Not for Me by Pernille Ripp and Changing Gears 2012: rejecting the “flip” by Ira David Socol.)

So this whole idea of flipping the classroom seems to be all the rage in some circles.  A school in Detroit is trying to “flip” most of its classes. The flipped classroom in short is where the students are assigned to watch a video demonstration or lecture at home and then come to school to work on the concepts that were shown to them via video at home.  Teachers are then freed from presenting content and can help guide students as they work on what would have been homework in the classroom.  I am not saying that using this model has no value.  Any type of teaching/learning model where the teacher, the students, and their parents have buy in and belief in the value of the practice there is certainly merit.  BUT, is this model really a change from what has been the norm in classrooms for decades?  If the “flip” model is simply taking the presentation part of the lesson and pushing it outside the school day and then having students do what would have been homework during the now freed up class time, it is simply a very small deviation (if at all) from the status quo. A status quo that is not working well for many of our kids today.  The one thing that this flipped classroom model demonstrates very well is that schools are not citadels where knowledge is stored and teachers have the magical keys to release the scarce information to the dutiful student.  If the flipped model is truly the best way for students to learn, then the Kahn Academy just as well take over the industry and we can be done with all this frivolous talk about school reform.

I like what I read on John Bergman’s website, especially in his post titled What I believe About Learning and Teaching. His explanation of the “flipped” classroom is much more eloquent than what I can write…read his.  I believe we need to “flip” educational practices on their proverbial heads.   We can start by doing things very differently….

  • Getting rid of the rigid time guidelines we use in schools
  • Changing credit associated to seat time to credit associated with demonstration of mastery
  • Stop requiring very different students to take and pass all the same requirements
  • Giving teachers time to take part in a professional learning community where practices can be honed and collaboration with a global learning community can be used.
  • Getting rid of one subject only course requirements and utilizing more project based work that integrates multiple disciplines.
  • Bring in resources and experts from the community and beyond to interact with students to supplement daily activities.  There are no excuses to not tap into the capabilities that modern networking affords.
  • Have students consider local problems and research and propose solutions using expertise from around the world.  Having students do real work and create real working solutions that contribute to their communities and beyond.

Imagine if we took the resources we are spending today to prove that the current system is working (i.e.  NCLB, testing, accountability, ad nauseum) and used them to train teachers and build experiences in which our student could really learn to manipulate their environments for the good of all……just the thought of it has me “Flippin’ Out!”

Photo courtesy of the San Diego Shooter’s Photostream on Flickr

2 thoughts on “Now Wait Just a Flippin’ Minute!

  1. Good article. As the guy who wrote the book on the flipped classroom, I agree that we need to focus on what we know is good, and sound, educational pedagogy. Note, that there is a lot of misconceptions about the flipped class and the Khan Accademy model is only one iteration. I would argue that it is the most basic and that teachers who adopt this model quickly move into more robust and better pedagogues. I would encourage you to read my blogs about the flipped classroom on my website if you are curious.

    • Thanks for reading Jon! I am impressed with the articles I have read on your blog. We have to do more to get our colleagues to realize that there are so many ways to engage students and ways to allow them to discover the important content as opposed to always having to deliver it to them.

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