Flipping the classroom is an idea being thrown around everywhere. I've had conversations about it with folks both in and out of education and teaching at all levels. No one has convinced me.
I may be hard to convince because it's not something I seriously need to consider. I teach first graders. I don't give them homework much less expect them to do any significant academic work outside the classroom. Plus, many of them lack internet access. So, the idea is shot down on two counts.
That doesn't stop me from having strong opinions on it. Why should it?
Valerie Strauss, at the Washington Post, wrote about the flipped classroom this week. She quotes some folks to explain their support and shares others' concerns about the idea. To my mind, nothing there hits on my really big issues.
First of all, a flipped classroom is not revolutionary. (I do understand that many folks don't feel we need to be revolutionizing education but plenty are throwing this idea out there as groundbreaking.) All it does is take traditional instruction and switch it around. Teachers are still lecturing at students.* Recording those lectures and sending them home allows students to watch them multiple times but doesn't allow any interaction. If something in the video doesn't make sense, there is no way for that to be addressed. How does watching a video, possibly more than once, equate to significant learning?
Secondly, let's imagine this really flies and most folks start doing it. How long will these videos be? How many videos will each student watch at night? Are we talking about half an hour per class? A high school student taking six class will have three hours of video to watch. Is that a good use of time? Is that even remotely reasonable? If teachers are taking their classroom lectures, from each class period of nearly an hour, that may be a conservative estimate. (Of course, I have serious issues with homework in general so these thoughts are tainted by that.)
Finally, this idea is so teacher focused it causes me pain. Students all get the same instruction at home (or possibly a teacher makes multiple videos for the same idea to offer differentiation - that's a lot of work for something that is not really specific to student needs). The message is that a teacher knows exactly what the students need to know and can just impart that knowledge and move on. The student's role is simply to listen and soak it all in.
I'd much rather see us rethinking our use of classroom time, rethinking our instructional models. Not just moving around the deck chairs.
* I do believe there is a place for lecture. My concern is that currently it is the default mode, used most often without any thought or question.