Class Blogging Week 5: 1
It has been such a long day that I can barely remember last night and what happened in class. Think - we finished the discussion about Denny, we looked at Polar Husky and we talked about Carla and her challenges to integrate technology and a more constructivist pedagogy into the school where she works.
Denny: I felt sorry for the guy. It seemed as if the class was willing to put the onus of getting this project right onto him without questioning the prof's approach to the whole project. It's sort of a bummer but one thing that I feel like I've learned over the course of my work life is that sometimes there will be those people who are in positions of power who want something done, some product made, some project initiated but they have no clue as to what the project entails - and they are unwilling to listen, unwilling to identify resources, AND they are willing to tolerate mediocre work. So, a whole lot of talking, project planning, and wheel spinning happens.
It will not matter how brilliant Denny is or what a convert to constructivism he is - if he doesn't match the prof's incredibly ambiguous, perhaps ever-moving definition of what she wants to have happen, then he's sunk. For instance, she claims to do most of the work in one-on-one face meetings after investing a lot of observation time. This is hard, if not impossible to capture unless she herself is willing to sit down and articulate some of the parameters. Consider how hard it was for us to discuss the line between didacticism and constructivism - how much, where are we on the continuum - if it is indeed a continuum, in what contexts, for what age groups, etc.
Given unmotivated science teachers presenting material they don't know to middle school students would do better *on average* with more structure and less room - maybe the prof's constructivist curriculum needs its own continuum so that teachers can "opt in" where they feel that they can be most effective -
And, of course, I could be all cranky about the Denny story because I really found the Colburn article very frustrating. From this one article - granted I have not considered Colburn's oveure - it seems to me that he has very little understanding, interest, appreciation for human development. In Psych 1001 we show this great little video clip of the developing cerebral cortex from age 4 to 21. What we know about brain development and the ability of people to form judgments really calls into question an educational perspective that depends on the dismantling of one belief system to be replaced by another. Although I understand the philosophical point being made that people's perceptions of the world really are re-formed by learning a different point of view, I guess I just don't understand how this is occuring on the level of new synapses being wired together. I don't think it is and, if learning is about wiring, which I think it is, I find it hard to relate.
One of the best books I've ever read in my life is *Descartes' Error* by Antonio Damasio. And, I loved it, because it gave me a scientific means of understanding how our concept of "reason" is truly tied to the biological processes of our body - hormones and the endocrine system and so on.
And I am way off subject and I have to go read with my daughter - Ralph S. Mouse is the book of the evening. Maybe I'll try to make sense tomorrow.