Major Findings from Educational Psychology

A sort of greatest hits one-line summaries from educationalists like   Dewey, Bereiter, Piaget, Egan, Vygotsky and more. Sorry for the lack of context, will try to expand on some of these in the future. Another way to say it is that these are the things I believe.

New knowledge must be connected to old knowledge, and then applied.

Humans are social in nature and learn best interactively.

The mind has a developmental imperative that cannot be ignored.

Education should be all about individual development, not societal selection.

The purpose of school is to help young people live in the present and prepare them for the future.

Learning that ignores the emotions and the society of learners is not true learning.

True education possesses a rhythm that is composed of two beats: freedom and discipline. Both are needed.

School should give students an array of authentic, powerful, cultural and cognitive tools.

Schools now have contradictory goals: academic excellence, individual development, and socialization.

Students should work on real problems that encourage them to figure out the world they live in.

Educators need a far more sophisticated model of understanding and knowledge.

Thinking, productive, strenuous, creative thought, must be at the heart of instruction.

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Educating the Whole Child

David Stow began his work in education in his Glasgow Sunday school in 1816. He was strongly critical of the education of his time. He stressed that effective education must be about much more than instruction. It must be concerned with the whole man. With apologies for the sexist language:

Man is not all head, feeling, or all animal energy. He is a compound being, and must be trained as such….The most influential and successful mode of cultivating the child is, therefore, the daily and simultaneous exercise of his intellectual physical, and moral powers.

Ahh, the old-timers knew what they were talking about!

A caring and educationally-minded parent somehow hears of your magic list (see prior post) and asks what, as a parent, they should look for in the instruction of their child’s teachers. What is something specific and easy to grasp that they can be on the lookout for, as an unmistakable sign that their child is on the right track for overall academic success? You answer that the big goal is better thinking, but that this is impossible without better reading; that for the foreseeable future success in school and beyond is indistinguishable from the ability to rapidly parse and infer long passages of text. This skill in turn, except for the lucky few, can only be acquired by a patient and detailed regime of teaching reading strategies. Therefore the best indicator of effective teaching is the presence of high-quality reading comprehension activities. (With some adjustments, this is true even for mathematics instruction.)

The Most Important Skills

An alien comes to your door and asks, “What are the most important academic dispositions and capabilities you want to teach your children? Please use very simple language!” My answers are: 1) the habit of daily, sustained and critical reading; 2) the desire and ability to write smooth, thoughtful, and creative prose in a variety of genres; 3) the capacity and willingness to engage in intelligent discourse, listening carefully and offering one’s own opinions without fear and 4) underlying all these performative acts their wellspring: the ability and disposition to think logically, creatively, and practically. I hesitate to say whether this brief and simple list has ever been taken in its pure form as the blueprint for an actual educational programme.

What Should We Teach First?

Schools should work on instilling values and character first, which leads to positive dispositions and attitudes, which produce good learning habits, which in turn result in the desired knowledge and skills. To begin later in the process is to skip the deepest, most generative aspect of schooling. Both moral and intellectual character traits must be fostered. By intellectual character is meant such qualities as integrity, curiosity, open mindedness, intellectual courage, persistence, belief in reason, etc.

 

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Super book….