Shallow, Deep, Profound

Some of the teacher training I am involved in uses the model:




We use it while we are discussing coaching and its relationship to teaching. It covers a great deal and promotes a lot of discussion over a range of topics.

Teachers tend to think that we are trying to get children to operate deeply and sometimes profoundly. That is true but that itself, the rush to deep as I call it, can cause serious problems with the quality of the subsequent learning if we have not ‘paddled around in the shallows enough’. I am an advocate of spending enough time in, and also in revisiting, the shallows of learning.

Shallow is not a bad place to be. It is not limiting learning. To be ‘in at the deep end’ can be very damaging to a child’s view about their ability to learn.

Clearly the word ‘shallow’ can be pejorative.

What a shallow person she is. Not a nice thing to say or to have said about one.

He only has a shallow understanding implies a gap; something missing that could be present.

The language associated with Bloom’s Taxonomy of lower order skills and higher order skills creates a similar urge to move to those, clearly, more attractive higher order things!

If you are told that teachers questioning is 80% recall and understanding, the two lowest levels of Bloom’s, then you will feel there is a need to move to the higher end. I might take a somewhat different view. I might be quite pleased that you were spending appropriate time at the ‘lower’ end.

Why do teachers need to ask lower order questions?

If you know why this is then you might not be so sniffy about these kinds of questions. There are learning reasons, remembering reasons, recalling reasons, assessment reasons, and other reasons. Do you know these reasons and why ‘paddling in the shallows’ is so critical for quality learning?

There are also some bad reasons for asking lower order questions. You need to know these and modify your practice appropriately.

Paddle lots, please, for the sake of the children.

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