Connections versus objectives

October 10, 2007

Phaedrus got me thinking thinking here about our ZPD idea and the way that we determine learning has occurred. When learning has occurred we have established connections between what we know and what we are learning about. When learning has occurred we have made a certain number of connections between concepts in the field that we are studying. The key is that connections are made between all of the ideas by exploring “what if” situations. (Rehash mode off)

So how do we get teachers and students to buy into the idea of “connections between knowledge” when assessments favor objective based types of learning?

I  just have a stereotypical vision of the nerd who knows the definitions of everything but cannot do anything. For example they may have memorized the name of every tool in the garage and how they work but does not possess the skills needed to use the tools to . Is that a good analogy? I am not sure but what I mean is this.

We often teach kids things that are useful on the assessment as an isolated item or nugget of information. The use they have for it is the test so they do not know how to use it for any other use.

Then can knowledge be considered a tool that we use to do a specific task, mental or physical? If we know how to use multiple tools in unison we are able to do new more complex tasks.

So when we are learning we are learning new ways for these tools to work together. Yes this seems a very Marvin Minsky way of thinking or maybe it is just the physics teacher in me coming out;)

So back on task how should we teach? I think that we should teach in an exploratory manner as much as possible. If students explore they make connections and have the ability use the knowledge in context and other extrapolate to other situations.  If students are taught in a manner that organizes knowledge as disconnected pieces  trivia their understanding of connections is weak.

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3 Responses to “Connections versus objectives”

  1. Nate Lowell Says:

    Think of Bloom’s Taxonomy as a basic foundation for assessment — not for learning. As we move up the pyramid, it becomes more and more difficult to assess without human brains interfering in the process. Rephrased, as you go up the scale, the assessment becomes more and more subjective.

    That’s a problem in the mass-production, Industrial Age model of Education because it allows for a variance in opinion on assessment. As a result we tend to lean toward the lowest level because it can be assessed relatively reliably — and with the least engagement on the part of the teacher.

  2. dancingnancy533 Says:

    It would be great to teach in a exploratory manner to find new connections for knowledge. Maybe then the nerd could become the nerd/handyman, :). Anywho, the reality of all this is that we are pushing so hard to meet standards and make sure students know the content we teach that we lose sense of the big picture. Why do students really need to know Science? Math? Social Studies? English? The real world application part of education is missing and really needs to be there.


  3. […] Compare that to the discussion of Bloom’s Taxonomy.) […]


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