Five Reasons I'm Not Flipping Over The Flipped Classroom

11/8/2011 12:00:00 AM

If you've read my thoughts about the Flipped Classroom in USA Today, you probably are either in agreement with my caution over the excitement around the flipped classroom made popular by Sal Kahn or you are a flipped classroom advocate who wants to convince me and other innovative educators that flipping is for everyone.

While I certainly see benefits in flipping instruction as I wrote about earlier this year, there are also reasons to move ahead with caution

Here's Why:

  1. We have yet to bridge the digital divide...
    Many of our students don't have access to technology at home.  The flipped classroom method does not have strong provisions in place for these children. 
  2. Flipped homework is still homework...
    There is a growing number of parents and educators who don't believe we should rob children of the time after school with mandatory homework. We believe time at home should be for pursuing passions, connecting with friends and family, playing and engaging in physical activity.  In some families it might be the time needed to take care of a sibling, work a job, or take care of their own child.  Let us leave children to the activities they and their family choose or find necessary and instead as John Taylor Gatto suggests (in lesson 7), that we should "give children more independent time during the school day" at which time they may also choose to watch flipped classroom lessons.   
  3. More time for bad pedagogy...
    Flipping instruction might end up just meaning we can provide time to do more of the same type of memorization and regurgitation teaching that just doesn't work.  When I shared the idea of the Flipped Classroom with an administrator, she said to me with excitement, "This is great!  We'll have more class time to prepare kids for the tests!"
  4. Grouping by date of manufacture...
    If we really want transformation in education, one thing we must do is stop grouping students by date of manufacture, which the flipped classroom is ideally suited for, but have schools put the structures in place?  Are they ready to let students move at a pace that meets their developmental readiness and come to the realization that not everyone at the same age needs to be at the same place at the same time?  True flipping should include a careful redesign of learning environment, but this is often overlooked.
  5. Lecturing doesn't = Learning...The flipped classroom is built on a traditional model of teaching and learning.  I lecture - you intake.  While this method of teaching works for some learners, many others thrive with a model that takes a more constructivist approach.

While there's no doubt that flipping is preferable to sending kids off on their own to make meaning of lectures, without questioning that type of pedagogy in the first place, we are doing our children a disservice. 

If you want to keep the Flipped Classroom conversation going, in addition to commenting here, you can join the Flipped Class Network.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in Huffington Post, EdReformer,Tech & Learning,ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning,The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.



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