People who aren’t involved in education might be surprised to learn what an ever-changing field it is. We’re always learning new things about learning, and teachers are always switching up their techniques to find out what works best. One approach to teaching that’s making waves in schools around the country is the “flipped classroom” model, which literally turns traditional teaching methods on their head.
Conventional education is based largely on Bloom’s Taxonomy, which you might have seen represented as a pyramid with simple, concrete goals at the bottom and abstract, complex tasks at the very top. Classrooms traditionally devote instructional time to the bottom of the pyramid; that is, relaying basic facts and testing for recall, and leave the critical thinking and formulation of original ideas for students to complete at home. But in 2012, high school chemistry teachers Johnathan Bergmann and Aaron Sams argued that this is completely backwards, and that students fare better when they get to engage with each other and learn collaboratively in the classroom after studying the basics on their own. There are lots of reasons that the flipped model might be the future of education:
- It changes the relationship between class time and homework. Study after study has shown that students have way too much homework and see way too little benefit from it. But in a flipped classroom, homework becomes simple preparation for the next day’s lesson, relieving stress and freeing up class time for more challenging work.
- It lets students get more out of their time in the classroom. They can watch video lectures and PowerPoints at home, but they can’t collaborate with their classmates, ask questions and learn from mistakes anywhere but in school.
- It helps teachers get to know their students. When a teacher stands in front of the class and reads a lecture straight out of their book, they don’t get to see the kids as individuals—their strengths and weaknesses, how they think, and what they have to offer. Flipped classrooms give students the time and space to show what they’re made of.
- It helps students get to know their teachers. Yes, teachers are people too! In the collaborative environment of a flipped classroom, students can work more closely with their teachers, learn what they expect, get more comfortable asking questions, and figure out how to really impress them.
- It’s closer to how the real world works. There’s no job on Earth where you can’t ask for help or clarification, work with your coworkers to find solutions, or do research on the Internet as you go. The traditional model for instruction hasn’t kept up with the times, and the flipped model is the update it sorely needs.
The flipped classroom certainly sounds like the kind of refresh sorely needed in a landscape dominated by an outdated industrial education model. But does flipping the classroom actually improve learning outcomes? Stay tuned for our next update…