Posting on a blog of a teacher who attended my course

19/01/2012 23:09

 “Bells and whistles

Posted on January 19, 2012

Nikos Kazantzakis, a Greek philosopher, observed that ”Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

Nowadays, teachers are encouraged to use ICT tools, social media, YouTube etc in the classroom as if the more these are used the better the quality of teaching.

There must be a shift in the way a teacher’s performance in the class room is evaluated. He or she must be judged more on the appropriate selection of tools and strategy used rather then using these for it own sake.

Yesterday, I attended an old fashion lesson just like what my teachers in the 1970s used to do. No youtube, no glogester etc although this teaacher has a Phd in the use of webquest for Inquiry.

It was one of the most difficult lesson I have attended. He had to teach us how to read a skew t diagram. So what is a skew t diagram?

From this link ( The Skew-T Log-P offers an almost instantaneous snapshot of the atmosphere from the surface to about the 100 millibar level.

It allows us to assess the (in)stability of the atmosphere, allow us to see weather elements at every layer in the atmosphere, determine cap strength, convective temperature, forecasting temperatures, determine character of severe weather....

Are you as lost as we are in the class?

Yet Dr Chang managed to teach us after three hours and yes we UNDERSTOOD or at least I began to understand. So what did he do right?

1. He told us the truth that that day lesson would be the most difficult but once we understood it, we would find the rest of the course a piece of cake. We were hooked, motivated to learn. So often we shield our students and children from hardship thinking that we are protecting them but we actually did them a disservice.

2. He broke it down. i.e. step by step, line by line.

When I first encountered the skew t diagram I said OMG so much information.

Then I saw Piaget in action. Paiget sees the learner as “continually interacting with the world around him/her solving problems that are presented by the environment.”

Why are there so many song about rainbow? And what on the other side(Yes he actually sang that.) Why do evaporation take place, why there is rain in the first place From the known to the unknown. From the basic like evaporation to CAPE.

Step by step. Every step of the way he ensured that all of us understood it first before going to the next point. To ensure understanding, we had to explain what we learn to our classmate. Baby step works.

3. He checked for understanding. We were stuck with Relative Humidity (RH) with the amount of water vapour that the air can hold at that particular temp with the saturation point using the Skew T diagram. He tried explaining it several time, each time using different viewpoint yet some how we could not. He did not give up but when he saw two water bottles he used that to explain RH. Some of us finally have the AH moment. Finally when we are almost there, he made one of the students use the skew t diagram by answering the tutorial question.


My friend YJ posted this quote from Steve Job in his facebook last night

“I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.”

Yesterday, I saw a glimpse of what right with education. No amount of technology can replace a great teacher. You still need someone to tell you the truth, break it down and check for understanding.


Now to spend the long CNY weekend to work out the skew t diagram.”


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