Thursday, December 27, 2012

Favorite Comments of '12: SteveH, Unknown, and Widow Douglas

On Letter from Huck Finn: Trying to Hold On and Another Guest on the Raft

SteveH said...

"The problem-based "connections" approach wasn’t leading to "aha" moments for many students."

Most all of my direct instruction teachers - through 7 1/2 years of college, tried to lead us students to light bulb moments. The funny ones were when they kept giving clues until they basically had to tell us the answer. Then, of course, only a couple might "get it". What about the rest? They were directly given the answer. The same goes for student-centered groups, except that it's always one student directly teaching the rest. So much for the "aha" moment for them. In general, few ever get true "aha" moments, and those happen only rarely. A learning environment that is centered on discovery is extraordinarily slow and inefficient. It will, however, warm the cockles of any well-indoctrinated teacher. Hey! Do ed schools use discovery learning? Or, is it kind of like leading the witness?

Unknown said...

I've experimented with discovery-based approaches as a math teacher and have pretty much abandoned them. I do use hands-on stuff, but only in a very careful, efficient, and explicit way with a clear point. The real "aha" moment for me was when my own son (who is mathematically gifted with an IQ in the 140s) took a precalculus class with the discovery approach at his highly regarded boarding school. He hated it, had many Cs and struggled to learn. The next year he had Calculus AB with a teacher who used direct instruction- making great connections and application- and he was back to As. If it doesn't even work for the gifted kids.... what in the world are we doing?

Widow Douglas said...

SteveH asked if ed schools use discovery learning. Indeed, I went to one that did. We were given a problem (it had to do with tessellations) and were given two weeks to discover whatever it was that we were supposed to discover. I was the oldest one in the class, with small children at home, so that my time was limited. After two weeks, I was the only one who "discovered" what we were supposed to discover. I was quite unhappy about it because, had someone explained the concept to me, I'd have had it in a minute or less and would have easily been able to apply it. I learned two things: Preservice teachers (at least those in my class) do not want to discover, don't know what to discover, and don't know how to discover it. This leads to the question, why would they want their students to do what they were unable/unwilling to do? Secondly, I learned that I didn't like it, that it was inefficient, and that as a learner, it frustrated me and made me angry -- enough that it turned me off to the subject matter.

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