Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Favorite comments of '10: GPC and Anonymous on hands-on, project-based learning

(Drawing the right lessons about creativity)


The problem I have with this is the fragmentation involved. Students are picking up bits and pieces of knowledge through these teaching methods. They aren't developing any overall understanding of the various sciences, math or writing. Unfortunately, few of these students will be able to go on to science or engineering majors because they lack a strong foundation in these subjects. 

I am all for teaching problem solving, creativity, and critical thinking in school. But it should be in addition to a knowledge curriculum that provides a strong basic foundation. Why not teach the basics of physics first and then assign real-world problems based on concepts taught? Why not put the horse before the cart instead of the cart before the horse? Knowledge is at the root of problem solving, critical thinking and creativity.

"Ted Schwarzrock...had been pushed into medical school, where he felt stifled and commonly had run-ins with professors and bosses. But eventually, he found a way to combine his creativity and medical expertise: inventing new medical technologies."

Schwarzrock combined his strong medical KNOWLEDGE with his creativity to become so successful. Medical knowledge alone would have allowed him to be successful. But creativity alone would not have got him where he is today. Both together are best. Schools need to realise that "skills" divorced from knowledge are meaningless in the real world.


It's interesting also that schools are using group projects as a means of promoting creativity. Studies have found that groups actually lessen creativity because groupthink tends to occur. It is often far better to send your team home and come up with potential solutions to a problem separately and then come together to afterwards to discuss those solutions. But this is for business purposes where each individual plays a certain role and so solutions can't be implemented by individuals. In schools, there is really little need for groups to deal with problems. It would make more sense to encourage more individual problem solving.

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