Week 4 – PCK and design learning

The learning path this week had lots of interesting things to discover; however I took particular interest in the subject of the ‘Khan Academy‘, a non-for profit organisation whose aim is to provide a ‘free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere’. While this is all well and good, I read this article which actually critiqued quite a lot of it.

Christopher Danielson (who holds a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Michigan State University and teaches math at Normandale Community College in Bloomington) and Michael Paul Goldenberg (who holds a master’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Michigan, as well as master’s degrees in English and psychological foundations of education from the University of Florida, and also coaches high school mathematics teachers in Detroit), the authors of this article, pose some very interesting points throughout. Although they support the notion of Khan Academy, and respect its stated goal, they have many concerns over the quality of instruction throughout the videos.

They stress the importance of PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge); a necessary prerequisite when teaching any subject, especially mathematics. Knowing which tasks are found easier, and those which are found harder, are a main element of PCK, and Khan’s videos lack this component.

After reading through the examples shown, I actually found that I could relate to a few of these instances, where I myself were in the position of a student who was being taught a concept that did not have appropriate Pedagogical Content Knowledge processes attached to it. There are still things to this day that I have difficulty learning, and I think it will take a lot of overhauling in the education system to apply this concept to our teaching practices.

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