Tuesday, March 25, 2008

how we learn

There seem to be more and more videos like those above. The basic message is the same "You must teach us (digital natives) differently because we learn differently." I agree and disagree with the whole premise. I agree that technology should be incorporated into classrooms to a greater degree. But do even a majority of teachers need to use a wiki? Do all teachers need to blog? The answer to this is an absolute NO! There should, however, be more of it in schools. Social constructivism is a strong pedagogical method, that when fostered with computer technologies, can lead to great student success.

My major disagreement with this video and others of its ilk is that learning has not changed. Genetically, humans are no different now than they were thousands of years ago. We have not undergone some fantastic punctuated equilibrium of the mind. The mind therefore learns the same now as it did thousands of years ago. The way we teach and present material has indeed changed. My major concern is that we throw out the baby with the bathwater. There is no need to replace good teaching practices with questionable new ones. The goal needs to be to discard the poor teaching practices and replace them with new; possibly using new technology. Can the use of a wiki be shown to increase understanding? Can a class social network boost test scores? Until there is data to support change, teachers will continue teach as they have been. Students will continue to learn just as students in the previous hundred years have.

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