April 08, 2007

Bloggy thinking?

Harold Jarche points out that blogs are good for conversations, but not so good for longer, more sustained thought, and his own entry is a good example.
Homework is only one activity that lacks evidence to support its continuance. Subject-based curriculum, age-based cohorts and reliance on unsound models like Bloom’s Taxonomy to measure learning outcomes are other examples.
Oh, really? There are good reasons for looking critically at these pedagogical methods, certainly, but I'd like to see more evidence that these are "unsound models" before I make up my mind. And where is the evidence that NOT assigning homework is a "sound model"?

Oh, I forgot, this is a blog, where you can throw out such comments and not have to provide any supporting evidence. Is this kind of gratuitous criticism (and how hard is it to knock homework?) part of being a good conversationalist, or just another nail in the coffin of rational debate?
Finally, I’d like to quote Shawn, at Anecdote, on the importance of conversation, “… most learning comes through interacting with people. Learning richness increases as multiple perspectives are described, discussed, challenged and explored.“
Actually, Shawn writes, learning is social—it benefits from conversations. Not quite the same thing. And I'd disagree that MOST learning comes throught interacting with people. I think this idea may be a distortion of ideas from Vygotsky and Bakhtin who (if I remember rightly) suggested that even reading or thinking are in fact dialogues or dialogic activity.

In fact, this suggestion kind of contradicts what Shawn writes in the previous paragraph: people don’t think they’ve learned anything until they’ve reflected on what happened. Reflection can be prompted or encouraged by others, but other people are not necessary for reflection (and therefore learning) to happen.

And even if it is true that most learning comes from interacting with people, it doesn't necessarily mean that interacting with people provides the best or most efficient or effective kind of learning.

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Charles Nelson said...

I think the reason why social interaction can promote learning is that it can facilitate diverse ideas that bump up against each other, encouraging participants to consider differences, clarify fuzzy areas, and sharpen one's own thinking. But it's also possible for people simply to confirm one another's biases and to "group-think" rather than to explore anomalies.

So, social interaction can promote or inhibit learning. It really depends on the culture and context of social interaction, and if in a classroom, on how well, the teacher designs an activity for exploration of ideas rather than finding "answers."

Pissed Off said...

Interaction is a aprt of learning, but it is not the whole thing. Reading is one of the most important parts of learning. I can't imagine an education without it. How can anyone have intelligent interactions without first obtaining knowledge.

Math education depends upon independant work on problems. Interaction is beneficial but not the only thing possible.