Friday, February 1, 2008

Learning by doing


In traditional classrooms we have often demanded perfection of learners. Papers must be spelled perfectly, punctuated perfectly, organised perfectly. Learner products must be perfect for the grade.
I see the value in demanding that every learner strive to do their work as unto our Lord, and hence their best work. I also see the value in learning by doing. Alfie Kohn recently said that and Gary Stager said it, in different words, at Educon. I found the Kohn podcast on Wes Fryer's blog today, causing me to mull over the words.
Our present traditional teaching methods are excellent at crowd control. But these methods do not succeed at creating learners who are collaborating, communicating, & connecting with other learners. Our present methods do not facilitate creativity.
He cites a study in which requiring teachers to raise standards was found to have a counterproductive effect. If this study is replicable, it should be enough to make us sit up and pay attention.
Stager spoke this past weekend of learning for real purposes.
Now if we could just convince parents and their children of the need to shift our educational paradigms. Elementary students have already made the leap. The high school students and their parents are entrenched in industrial-age education. There are exceptions here and there, but my!....
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5 comments:

hurricanemaine said...

This is a fight with High School. Some of my students are forward thinkers and like the shift I have made. But, I have a class that is skeptical and does not think it is the right way to learn. My colleagues are hard to convince as well. In the general classes they can agree but with the academic it is just not the way it is supposed to be. If university expectations were to change, then it would be easier.

No greater battle exists than in Science and Math. They cannot be convinced. I blogged the poor state of science by just focusing on facts in my blog. It is frustrating to see the lack of vision and necessity for change. How many more studies need to be given to show the change in pedagogy is needed and worthwhile? Great post!

hurricanemaine said...

This is a fight with High School. Some of my students are forward thinkers and like the shift I have made. But, I have a class that is skeptical and does not think it is the right way to learn. My colleagues are hard to convince as well. In the general classes they can agree but with the academic it is just not the way it is supposed to be. If university expectations were to change, then it would be easier.

No greater battle exists than in Science and Math. They cannot be convinced. I blogged the poor state of science by just focusing on facts in my blog. It is frustrating to see the lack of vision and necessity for change. How many more studies need to be given to show the change in pedagogy is needed and worthwhile? Great post!

Miss Signal said...

This was such a great read as I have just come back from a conference in NZ called Lighting The Flame. Alot of the conversations here were about the shift in education and the different way in which kids learn and the acceptance of this within the education system. Because something doesn't work it doesn't just mean the kid "can't get it" maybe we aren't teaching it in the way that they can see it.

I think hurricanemaine has a point that if this shift happens earlier in the system that at high school it would become more evident. One of the speakers talked about the fact that at high school its so hard for the creative and connected students because they have had it almost beaten out of them through the school system. Thanks for these posts they were a great read for me!

Ashley S. said...

Students tend to focus on making the grade but actually learning something and applying it later is rare. I would have to agree that learning by doing is a way to help students commit learned topics into their long-term memory instead of something used just to pass the test. One expression that comes to mind when I think about this issue is that “once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget.” And just how do you learn how to ride a bike? Not from a book or lecture but from actually riding it. It would be nice to have students remember material as easily as they remember how to ride a bike. I hope we can make strides towards learning by doing in the near future.

CollinsC said...

In responding to demanding perfection of your students; at what level should students be taught at as opposed to perfection. You have to expect failure, and it is at that time when the lesson is learned. Without a lapse in the system of learning the student will never develop creativity, because without a mistake in the steps of learning the student just follows the directions given by the instructor. So in turn I think our system in place right now in high school is “perfect”.