Dotty Andragogy

The amusing musings of an adult educator in the corporate training world.

Real Work vs. Real World

on October 10, 2014

An effective adult educator will always show you the practical relevance of the lesson content to your jobs or to your lives. That is because adults are interested in the real world; we want to know how we will be able to apply our newly learned skills in the real world. This post on Dan Meyer’s blog about Real Work vs. Real World shows a second dimension about in-class problems, in addition to real vs. fake world, that is often overlooked: real vs. fake WORK.

Fake work is narrowly focused on precise, abstract, formal calculation. It’s necessary but it interests students less. Real work, interesting work involves problem formulation and question development.

Meyer points out that real work, even in a fake world, can be more conducive to learning than fake work, even in a real world.

I can think of some application of this concept to corporate training. Some of the case studies we use are “fake work in a real world”. The case studies are elaborate; each detailed piece of information fits within the prescribed formula that we are teaching (e.g. if the colleague’s infraction of the code of ethics is [insert list here], then immediate dismissal is warranted). In reality the information would not be so clearly presented and readily available. Case studies could be modified to limit the information presented in the case study, and leave room for the student to ask the right questions to get the information they will need. I guess that is what Meyer means by facilitating question development skills.

Something else I learned from Dan Meyer: how to choose the fastest check out line at the grocery store. Did you know? An extra person in line = 48 extra seconds, but each additional item = only 2.8 seconds. So even if there are 17 more items in the carts before you, that will still be faster than one more person in line!


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