Saturday, April 2, 2011

Are you ready for "something completely different?"

My wife gave me The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus for my last birthday. I just got around to watching the first episode and saw the following sketch. It demonstrates perfectly what happens when we fail to use formative assessment to inform planning and instruction.

This reminds me of an article by Dr. Rheta Rubenstein titled, "The Learning of Mathematics: Perspectives of Different Researchers." (It comes from our text, Teaching and Learning Middle Grades Mathematics.) Under the section on Vygotsky, she includes the following diagram attributed to Dr. Lauren Resnick.

Vygotsky in Venn Diagram Form

As Terry Jones's character discovers, when teachers use scripted lessons that do not take learners' current level of understanding into account very little learning occurs.


  1. Ha - Nice. And I like the egg graphics. I can use those in my department meeting on Tuesday.

  2. The Reflective Educator,
    Glad you like it. I'd be interested to know how it goes over at the department meeting.

  3. Hi,Dave,

    I'm English and I love the Monty Python connection!

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show about math that we're putting together. "The Number Hunter" is going to do for math education what Bill Nye The Science Guy did for science education. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We're teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you'd be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We're also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,