Sunday, September 30, 2012

Drill and kill or drill and intuit?

[Third in a series on Daniel Kahnemann’s Thinking Fast and Slow]

Again, one of Kahnemann’s major themes is that that the intuitive part of the brain commits numerous fallacies except when operating in highly regular, predictable, environments or when subjected to hours of practice and immediate and reliable feedback.

This means that educational theorists are unreliable. It also means that one of their biggest fads, Constructivism, is misguided in yet another way. For consider which sort of pedagogy provides a regular, predictable environment with lots of practice and immediate and reliable feedback: one in which the material is delivered by teachers and textbooks, or one in which students discover things on their own in cooperative groups; one in which students practice particular patterns or particular optimal strategies repeatedly in a large number of carefully constrained exercises, or one in which students apply multiple invented strategies to a small number of open-ended prompts and problems; one in which student responses and student work is corrected right away, or one in which all responses are considered “valid” and in which student work isn’t handed back until the end of the marking period in a “portfolio assessment.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So true. I trust my intuitions with respect to people so much more after 66 years of observing them and thinking about them (gathering data, so to speak). And about cooking, gardening, electoral politics, nonprofit governance buying a used car -- it goes on and on. Anything where I've had a chance to build a body of knowledge over the years, I feel confident in my intuitions. Anything where I have not (and that includes whole universes), I would never dare to use my intuiton to make a a decision.