Monday, July 13, 2009

Flash Cards

Are you fracking Kidding me? Flash Cards? Why the HECK would you encourage flashcards.

Yes, I hate flashcards.

A Lot.

I'm not a fan of Power Point, but that's a different story. But Flash Cards, I hate 'em.

Flash Cards encourage a style of education that does not necessarily increase learning, and I cannot believe that in today's culture, so many people like flash cards.

Well, that's a lie. I understand it. I think it's dumb, but I understand it. Students like them because they are simple, and teachers like them because they require little prep work for the teachers. Flash cards do not require teacher creativity in any way shape or form, but that is not why I hate them.

This is why I hate them. I teach AVID. In AVID, I teach students how to learn, asking them to avoid lower levels of reasoning.

In Costa's hierarchy of questions, the lower level is level 1. This level has questions like, "What is the name of the book?" "What is 'dog' in French?" "Where is France on a Map?" These are basic 'look it up' level questions. They are questions that you get the answer for and move on quickly.

In Bloom's Taxonomy, These questions are typically Knowledge or Comprehension. Do you know where Bob is? Do you understand 4+2? All of these questions have a place in pedagogy, but they are not the end-goal.

More appropriately, we can say, "Use the word for "Dog" in a French Sentence." or "How does the name of the book relate to the plot of the first three chapters?"

Both of these questions are intentionally open-ended and require the student to USE the information (Higher levels on Costa and Bloom).

We are reasonably certain that the more a student uses the information, the more likely that student will be to be able to recall the information later. If we are pushing students to a level where they should be able to utilize information in a variety of settings, why then are we only requiring extremely basic knowledge? Why are we not pushing their knowledge higher?

Flashcards are the evidence that teachers are not moving forward with their pedagogical methods.




Corrie said...

Respectful disagreement...
Flashcards are a pain and are creative-less. However, flashcards do have their place. For example, a flashcard might be used for the times tables. 2x2=__ Then once the kid has 2x2=4 in memory you can move on to higher level thinking (or even simultaneously). Why does 2x2=4? Is 2x2=4 always true? etc. The facts do have their place.

Jonathan said...

But there are always more engaging ways to get students to remember something. Even if Flash cards seem useful for so-called "rote" learning, why not have the students create puzzles? Or even complete puzzles... With technology being what it is, we can easily program games that meet the same need as blasted flash cards!

I still hate 'em... :-)