The Newest Theory Says…

The point, I think, is that the balance point between theory and practice — the point where theory interests teachers who have five preps a day and a stupid faculty meeting at 3:30 — does not exist at the extreme of theory, where it’s being put.

It seems of late that everyone wants to “just change TPRS a little”. There are probably a lot of reasons for that. Some are genuinely trying to find the optimum blend. Some want to make a name for themselves. Some are probably reacting to the lingering stigma against those four letters. But for whatever reason, people are advocating changing just about everything. No, don’t ask stories, use movies. No, don’t plan what you’re inputting, just wing it. To my mind, while variety in the classroom is great, most of these side roads lead away from some of the basic ideas that make TPRS work: personalization, teaching narrow and deep, spiraling, high amounts of repetitions.

I pay more attention when someone posts “Hey, for the past three years, I’ve done this rather than that, and here are the results, because I did test. This is just in my own classroom, mind you, but it seems like there’s something going on here. Anybody else up to try this?” than when someone posts “Theory X says that X will happen, so it’s better to do Y.” Yes, theory can give great points of departure for trying things one might not have thought of otherwise, but until a substantial number of people do try those things and get results that are more or less congruent, well — let’s just say I never got excited the first time a guy calls. So many of ’em never call back.
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