[IAEP] [support-gang] When teaching restrains discovery

James Simmons nicestep at gmail.com
Wed Jan 19 17:43:02 EST 2011

I have a niece (not a blood relation, I'm a friend of the family she
calls "uncle") who went to the Illinois Math and Science Academy.
They had a kind of open house where parents and guests could meet her
teachers.  From what I heard it sounds like education there is very
much like you describe.  Her father used to complain that "the
teachers don't teach!"

IMSA is a public boarding school.  Every kid in it is the smartest kid
in his old school.  They have a huge glass display case for chess
trophies.  It's one of the most remarkable places I've ever visited.
I wish I could have gone to high school there, but there's no way I
could have qualified at that age.

Mel Chua went there.

James Simmons

On Wed, Jan 19, 2011 at 4:27 PM, Caryl Bigenho <cbigenho at hotmail.com> wrote:
> Hi Folks... The retired teacher talking here.....
> "Discovery learning" in a properly prepared, semi-structured environment
> works. Look at the success of the Montessori method.
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montessori_method
> Intervention is helpful at times, but only as a last resort.  If a child is
> stumped and ready to give up and go on to other things, a little "nudge" in
> the right direction can open up new discoveries.
> Actually, I discovered "discovery learning" myself as a young teacher.
> Trying to apply it to math wasn't always easy.  That is probably why science
> seemed so much more fun to teach.
> Another thing I discovered was Project Based Learning (BPL).  It started
> when I was teaching beginning Algebra classes of over 40 students.  "Why not
> try letting them work on things in teams like we do in science?, I thought.
> When I had teams of 2, that cut my effective class size in half to 20+.
> Groups of 4 gave me just 10+.
> The kids loved it and I was able to gently "nudge" groups in the right
> direction when they were really stuck, praise successes, and suggest
> enrichment activities. Occasionally a student or parent would complain that
> my class was "noisy." But, it was good, productive noise.  They were
> learning!
> BTW, does anyone remember the good old "new math" program called SSMCIS?
> (AKA the "Columbia Program", named after the university where it
> originated)  I Beta-tested it when it was still in the pre-publication
> stage.  Lots of discovery and PBL there.  It was a lot of fun, but they did
> have to  train us teachers first!
> http://mathforum.org/kb/thread.jspa?forumID=304&threadID=714464&messageID=7143356
> More thoughts coming re the "Tiger Mom,"  kids outdoors, and the world we
> live in today.!  The "mom" will reply!
> Caryl
> ________________________________
> Date: Wed, 19 Jan 2011 16:32:59 -0500
> From: holt at laptop.org
> To: support-gang at laptop.org; iaep at lists.sugarlabs.org
> Subject: Re: [support-gang] When teaching restrains discovery
> On 1/19/2011 1:29 PM, Christoph Derndorfer wrote:
> Hi all,
> I just stumbled across this fascinating article called "When teaching
> restrains discovery"
> (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/notrocketscience/2011/01/18/when-teaching-restrains-discovery/)
> Indeed such unstructured & unsupervised play (nevermind the outdoors!) may
> be "obsolete" in rich, overparented societies per "Last Child in the Woods"
> (Richard Louv, 336p, 2005), "Free-Range Kids" (Lenore Skenazy, 256p, 2009),
> "Play Again" (2010 film) etc.
> But the patient (exploratory learning) won't die without a fight -- witness
> the ongoing backlash against last week's "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior"
> (WSJ, Jan 8 2011), "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" (Amy Chua, 256p, 2011)
> etc:
>     The Unused Playground: Kids Need to be Out in Nature, Yet We Keep Them
> Caged. By Phil Primack
>     ...studies, hearings, and slogans (“Leave No Child Inside”) won’t
> significantly reduce the great disconnect between kids and nature unless
> parents – many raised amid “Stranger Danger” and other media-stoked fears
> themselves – are willing to grant kids more freedom...
> http://boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/09/12/the_unused_playground/
>     Nature Deficit Disorder: Kids Who Don’t Get Outside Can Pay To Play
>     http://radioboston.wbur.org/2011/01/18/nature-deficit
> http://feeds.wbur.org/~r/WBURRadioBoston/~5/6EoG_ogxORs/radioboston_0118.mp3
>     (Listen from 15m40s to 35m06s)
>     Amy Chua Is a Wimp: “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother” may denounce soft
> American-style parenting, but its author shelters her children from the
> truly arduous experiences necessary to achieve.
>     http://nytimes.com/2011/01/18/opinion/18brooks.html
> --
> Help kids everywhere map their world, at http://olpcMAP.net !
> which is based on a very recently published paper whose title really
> says it all "The double-edged sword of pedagogy: Instruction limits
> spontaneous exploration and discovery"
> (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T24-51WV6VK-1&_user=10&_coverDate=01/08/2011&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=search&_origin=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=b3319a977badfb35348871b64a9e1d4c&searchtype=a).
> Definitely well worth a read in my opinion. :-)
> Cheers,
> Christoph
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