[IAEP] Path to Constructionism (was Re: Its.an.education.project Digest, Vol 4, Issue 8)

Edward Cherlin echerlin at gmail.com
Mon Jul 7 20:44:22 CEST 2008

On Mon, Jul 7, 2008 at 9:31 AM, Bill Kerr <billkerr at gmail.com> wrote:
> btw I teach in a "disadvantaged school" in Australia and am given much more
> leeway, to do what I want provided it works, than would happen at a wealthy
> private school here - also if kids refuse to sit still and hear a lecture
> then the teacher has considerable pressure to try something else (may not
> apply in nepal, I don't know)
> new classes tend to be instructionist because groups pass through stages
> such as dependence, rebellion, cohesion, autonomy -- and this takes time as
> well as the right methods
> if teacher is not familiar with the software then lessons tend to be
> didactic until teacher becomes more familiar because teacher does not have
> the skill level to answer wide ranging questions about "how do I do this?"

See Muska Mosston, Teaching from Command to Discovery, originally
published in 1972, and other works.

Mosston taught at my high school when I was there, and then went on to
teach education at Rutgers University.

> aspects of constructionist learning can be introduced early but for it to
> flourish takes:
> (a) time, quite a lot of (note alan's 3 year trial period)

That is not the time required to introduce teachers to the concepts
and basic methods. That is the time to design and refine new lesson
plans, including field testing.

> (b) expertise in software being used

Much can be done with only moderate knowledge. Particularly if someone
else programs the framework or the simulation needed.

> (c) knowledge of taking classes through the stages mentioned above
> (d) culture that accepts innovative approaches

Field research contradicts these claims, showing rapid improvements in
early weeks and months in the most conservative and hidebound
education systems, as reported in Ethiopia. Certainly we want to get
all of that into Schools of Education, but we don't need perfection in
order to begin. Unlike, say, New Math without computers, where lack of
teacher preparation turned it into a complete fiasco.

> some ideas from seymour papert about teacher requirements here:
> Skilled in modern learning theories and psychology
> Skilled in relating to a variety of children
> Skilled in detecting new, important elements of their student's culture
> Skilled in cross curricular applications
> Skilled in computing
> Able to apply a variety of skills creatively

Same comment as above. Good to have, necessary in future teacher
training, not required today. Much that is of critical importance and
highest value can be learned on the job, with proper support. Which we
are trying to talk about creating.

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Edward Cherlin
End Poverty at a Profit by teaching children business
"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."--Alan Kay

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