Category Archives: Stub

Stubs and other half-baked posts

The (misguided) Case for Fully Guided Instruction

This journal article has great ambitions. ± “Our goal is to put to an end to the debate” on whether instruction should be guided, unguided, or somewhere in between in order for people to best learn.

But it has a foundational flaw, and if you’re a reader that understands constructivism at all, that flaw prevents it from doing anything of the sort.

Like a number of other “debunking” type articles that purport to shoot down parts of the constructivist model, it misunderstands what constructivism is. Specifically, it misunderstands which “level of the stack” constructivism describes. This is crucial. If you get this wrong, then you start to come up with all kinds of misinformed applications of the model.

Constructivism is about hardware, not software.

It’s about the brains (minds) of people when they learn something from the world around them.

It is not about the something

It is a model of how our hardware works when we learn.

It is not a model of what

 

Constructivism does not suggest that school work should be composed of “constructing” or “building” things. It does not directly suggest project-based work. It does not suggest curriculum or materials of any specific kind. And constructivism does not

Constructivism is a model of what happens inside the learner’s head.

 

 

I’ve started reading articles like this when I see them, to understand the misconceptions that are out there and maybe find small ways in which I can bolster my own teaching. By talking explicitly about constructivism and embedding it in my other materials I hope I’ll be able to inoculate the people I teach against this misunderstanding.

Some of these articles are well-argued and thoroughly researched, so it’s important to consider them thoughtfully and pick spots where they can be corrected.

 

Source: Putting Students on the Path to Learning: The Case for Fully Guided Instruction, by Richard E. Clark, Paul A. Kirschner, and John Sweller; American Educator Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2012; AFT – Clark.pdf

Yup, that is NOT how to teach math

This TEDx talk about maths teaching is pretty bad

 

I’ve been combing through this educator’s site–Greg Ashman. I found him through his critique of Dan Meyer’s well-known TEDx talk. He has some pretty sharp criticisms of Meyer and others, and the “inquiry” school of instruction generally. I can’t say I find his arguments convincing–he’s wayyy on the far opposite pole from the inquiry crowd–but I’ve learned a lot from reading him and reading the papers he cites.

Then there’s this other TEDx talk. It’s horrible from a math education standpoint. The speaker goes on and on about wonder and discovery and inquiry, but as his centerpiece uses a horrendous, contrived problem that serves only to get students to guess the hidden pattern that was placed by the teacher. “Authentic” problems these are not.

The trouble with creating teaching

I’m finding myself struggling to relate to certain education writers that rely heavily on cognitive or learning research.

I have two such writers in mind recently, whose material I’ve been reading with great interest but who I think are misinterpreting something important about learning and education.

First: Greg Wilson, whom I know through his work in computer programming education. He works mostly with adults in the academic & scientific communities. I’ve read lots of his thoughts on how to teach programming. Beyond that, he’s a fascinating speaker.

Second: Greg Ashman, a veteran UK high school math teacher. His special focus, to boil down a range of very detailed and interesting posts from his blog, is

THE PROBLEM:

Both Greg Wilson & Greg Ashman occasionally lean too much on scientifically-established principles of learning to engineer methods of teaching.

I think there’s a gap between teaching (what a teacher, book, or other material presents to a student) and learning (how the student interprets and learns inside their mind).

I’m trying to put my finger on it.

Wilson example: from his Teaching Tech Together, (maybe something about structuring a problem so it aligns with 5 ±2 ?

Ashman example: from his blog. Four Ways Cognitive Load Theory has changed his teaching.