Ten Theses In Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes

Jeff Noonan, Interventions, Evocations, Aug 07, 2016
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I'm generally sympathetic with the objectives of this post but less so with how it is presented. The main point, that "Teaching at the university level is not a practice of communicating or transferring information but awakening in students a desire to think by revealing to them the questionability of things," is the least well supported assertion in the piece, though it is probably the most contentious. Nonetheless, I agree with it. The move to make "a desire to think" over into a "love of thinking" is to me a bit questionable. But we agree that "this result is very different from mastering a certain body of knowledge or learning to apply certain rules to well-defined situations." As Noonan begins to trace the consequences of this position we finally encounter a series of references supporting his point. Alas, too little too late. Don't skip the comments, a good discussion dating from last March. Also there's an annotated version on hypothes.is, a defense of learning outcomes against Noonan here, and a good (though very critical) discussion here.

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