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minimal instruction

Discussion in 'Scotland - curriculum' started by aerumlily, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. Hi I read an article by Kirschener about how minimal guidance during instruction in which children have limited input from the teacher and are left to entirely discover new concepts by themselves does not work. The authors were also suggesting that constructivism is impractical when very little input comes from the teacher. Certainly, we can scaffold children's learning by modelling how to solve a problem or asking leading questions, but are we not then in effect teaching them directly and the'learner- directed learning' is not really 'learner-directed?
    Im looking at how children learn best and was hoping for some other points of view, as part of my masters degree research.
     
  2. Hi I read an article by Kirschener about how minimal guidance during instruction in which children have limited input from the teacher and are left to entirely discover new concepts by themselves does not work. The authors were also suggesting that constructivism is impractical when very little input comes from the teacher. Certainly, we can scaffold children's learning by modelling how to solve a problem or asking leading questions, but are we not then in effect teaching them directly and the'learner- directed learning' is not really 'learner-directed?
    Im looking at how children learn best and was hoping for some other points of view, as part of my masters degree research.
     
  3. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    I think you would first need to define the term 'learn best' because there are a number of factors involved in the learning process and one way to learn may not always be the best, or most efficient, way to learn for all pupils.
    For example, whilst experiential learning can be very valuable, there is also a need for direct teaching because children will not all automatically learn in the same way from the experience.
    Individual teaching is sometimes necessary because the required teaching feedback has to be specific to the individual child. However, group teaching can often be more effective if you want children to learn from interaction with others in the group and whole class teaching can sometimes be the most efficient, and practical, way to quickly convey information.
    In general, however, I think we should be cautious about the idea that children can teach themselves if the teacher, or facilitator, just creates the right learning environment. If the concept to be learned is quite basic, a child may learn from trial, error and experience but some concepts are complex and may never be learned unless the learning process is directed by a skilled teacher.
    For example, if you gave a child a pair of roller-blades they may, by trial and error, develop the necessary understanding and skills to become reasonably proficient in their use. However, if you gave them a book, without any prior knowledge of reading, how much progress would they make without a structured programme of direct teaching?
    Another aspect that is sometimes overlooked is the social, financial and political influences that have a bearing on which learning methodologies are chosen, at any particular time, within a formal school education system.
    For example, back in the late 19th Century, the need was to introduce basic general education for all children. That was achieved with large classes and one teacher focusing mainly on literacy and numeracy.
    After the First World War, public health and serious infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza were a major issue. There was a need for better ventilated schools so, as building labour costs and land prices were still relatively low, schools could be built with large classrooms spread out along long corridors. Class numbers were still high but, at least, ventilation was improved and close contact minimised. Whole class, direct teaching met the needs of the day and was, therefore, considered the 'best' method to aid learning.
    By the 1960s and 70s most serious childhood infections were being brought under control but, at the same time, building costs and land prices were rising steeply. The solution was to build new open, and semi-open, plan schools with flat (leaky) roofs, internal partitions and reduced teaching space. Happily, this coincided with the publication of the 'Plowden Report' in England and the 'Scottish Memorandum' which advocated new, child-centred ways of working. Group and team teaching fitted well into the new, more compact primary schools, although, despite reduced class sizes, staff and pupils were still expected to work on top of each other!
    Roll forward to the 21st Century where economies around the world are having to find financial savings. Education takes up a fairly large part of a country's budget (although, of course, it provides very cheap childcare to allow parents to get out to work) and teachers' salaries make up the largest part of the education budget. Could that in some way influence the learning and teaching theories, and methodologies, that are considered 'the best' for pupils in our schools today?
    Low and behold, the importance of the teacher in the learning process has been played down by successive UK governments in recent times. Indeed, one LA in Scotland even proposed that primary teachers could be replaced by a changing team of 'experts', with six weeks training, using money from a job creation programme. After all, if children can teach themselves, do we really need to pay for 'expensive' fully qualified teachers?
    In addition, successive governments are keen to stress the role of ICT and the internet in the education process. If pupils can simply log on to a computer and have access to previously undreamt of learning programmes, information and knowledge, schools may logically need fewer and fewer teachers (or should that be learning facilitators). Think of all the savings that could be made and, as a bonus, governments could, in theory, control and micro-manage everything children and young people learn to make them responsible citizens and dutiful voters.
    Come to think of it, with this 'World Wide Web' thingy, there may be no need to go to school at all and children and young people could just work from home - even more savings on unnecessary school buildings ... oh, wait a minute, what about childcare?
    Somehow I suspect that the 'best', and most practical, way to learn will continue to be with a well qualified teacher, using a variety of teaching and learning methodologies.
    Whether successive governments allow this to happen, and stop interfering in education for pragmatic reasons and party political purposes, is another matter.
     

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