Eddie Versus the Forces of Woo

No one appears to have a bad word for Eddie Woo. And no, we’re not looking to thump Eddie here; the mathematics videos on Eddie’s WooTube channel are engaging and clear and correct, and his being honoured as Local Australian of the Year and as a Top Ten Teacher is really cool. We do, however, want to comment on Eddie’s celebrity status and what it means.

What do Eddie’s videos exhibit? Simply, Eddie is shown teaching. He is explaining mathematics on a plain old whiteboard, with no gizmos, no techno demos, no classroom flipping, rarely a calculator, none of the familiar crap. There’s nothing at all, except a class of engaged students learning from a knowledgeable and engaging teacher.

Eddie’s classroom is not the slightest bit revolutionary. Indeed, it’s best described as reactionary. Eddie is simply doing what good maths teachers do, and what the majority of maths teachers used to do before they were avalanched with woo, with garbage theories and technological snake oil.

Sure, Eddie tapes his lessons, but Eddie’s charmingly clunky videos are not in any way “changing the face of mathematics teaching“. Eddie’s videos are not examples of teaching, they are evidence of teaching. For actual instruction there are many better videos out there. More importantly, no video will ever compare to having a real-live Eddie to teach you.

There are many real-live Eddies out there, many teachers who know their maths and who are teaching it. And, there would be many, many more real-live Eddies if trainee teachers spent more time learning mathematics properly and much less time in the clutches of  Australia’s maths ed professors. That’s the real message of Eddie’s videos.

6 Replies to “Eddie Versus the Forces of Woo”

  1. Thanks Marty,

    I don’t have a bad word to say about Eddie either.

    The media hype and the parents/students who make statements such as “I wish MY teachers were like Eddie…” however make me want to be physically sick sometimes. Two points here (both of which you have already alluded to):

    1. There are LOTS of teachers like Eddie in schools. Learn to appreciate what is right in front of you.

    2. There were a LOT MORE teachers like Eddie in schools before they were told (by whom is a good question and I would be speculating about the answer, but a measure of responsibility lies with school management and another measure with “Mathematics Education Research Experts” who have been telling these teachers NOT TO TEACH THIS WAY. Don’t believe me? Read some of the research crap that is published in world education journals. Peer reviewed no less. Or just see Marty’s post “Downwardly Mobile”.

    1. agreed “There are many real-live Eddies out there”.

      There was a similar problem with the ABC TV doco ‘Revolutionary School”.

      It showed how difficult kids can be and the hard work, passion and care most teachers at the school showed.

      But to raise it as “revolutionary” implies indirectly (and by some experts directly), that other schools and staff are not up to scratch.

      I was disappointed in the end the so-called experts were given the credit for turning the school around.

      On further analysis of Y12 and Naplan results showed it must have been the teachers – details here –

      1. And now Eddie is going to be teaching teachers “how to be passionate” (ABC news 3/March)

        There is some cruel irony in there somewhere when you think that the government is paying for this to happen.

        1. Sheesh. Yeah, here, and yeah this is getting old. But on the upside perhaps Eddie can convince some idiots to have their students put down their mobile phones.

          George, thanks for your comment. I’m looking to write something on Hattie soon. So much crap, …

  2. Thanks, Marty there’s plenty of mathematical crap there. But here’s one that’s more misrepresentation and given the Saints poor performance against Carlton the other night, perhaps something the coaching staff so take note of.

    Self -report grades did have Hattie’s highest effect size and ranking. Hattie’s interpretation is that predicting your grade somehow magically improves your grade, or recently he has changed a little saying it is now the expectation. Hattie interprets this as advancing student achievement by 3+ years!

    This is an AMAZING claim if true: that merely predicting your grade, somehow magically ‘influences’ your achievement to that extent.

    I hope my beloved ‘under-achieving’ Australian football team – The St Kilda Saints are listening (the studies were also on athletic performance),

    “Boys you can make the finals next year just by predicting you will – you don’t need to do all that hard training!”

    1. Homer Simpson, the source of much wisdom once said to a parrot, “It’s not enough to WANT a cracker, you have to EARN it.”

      I don’t think the Saints want to win much at the moment, let alone earn it.

      Too late to ask for a membership refund though I guess.

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