Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Teaching and Learning

As I try to assimilate my thoughts to write this upcoming paper, I'm re-reading pieces of Palmer's The Courage to Teach and comparing that with the paper The Kold Model Modified for Classroom Activities. I'm simply using this post to share some thoughts. Comments on any of these would be great!

Both Palmer and Kolb talk about how important it is for teaching and learning to go hand-in-hand. Palmer mentions how we live in a world today full of paradoxes - teaching and learning being a good example. Only rarely do we find teachers who simultaneously handle the processes of teaching and learning. They realize the need to keep these processes together in order for the student to get the maximum benefit out of his educational experience. Kolb also talks about how it is important from time-to-time for the teacher to step back and allow the student his/her own first-hand experience at gathering information regarding a certain topic or doing some field work in order to validate some findings from, what he calls "concrete experience".

Thus, in this process of trying to educate future generations, not only do we have to grab opportunities to pass on the knowledge that we have, to them, but it also becomes our responsibility to give them the tools to enable them to further "research" on their own.

From my own personal experience, there were very few times during my middle/high-school that we ever did any sort of project. These projects were more a means of getting some extra points that was towards our overall percentage, than a means of learning something on one's own. Very little importance was given to these projects afterward by the teachers - which makes the student more disinterested in actually doing a really good project. It was more a teacher-talking-student-listening type of system.

However, during my undergrad, as I moved away from home to a new country, I could see the drastic difference in the way students of that nation approached any sort of practical problem or project that was put forth for homework. I also found the professors taking a lot of interest in each individual project - which certainly acts as a great stimulus for the student to perform better while doing that.

All in all, I think the key lies entirely with the teachers to find that fine region of balance between these acts of teaching and learning. As a student, depending on the level of learning, it is possible to actively participate in helping the teacher to find that fine region of balance.


Bethany Fralick said...

I agree with you that emphasis on individual projects is important for learning. I found through my own teaching experiences that students understood and retained important information and skill better during hands-on labs and projects.

The hard part of this idea of concrete experiences in the teaching. I really enjoyed lab and project days because I could see the students explore and learn. It was a terrific feeling but what I did not see was some students who never made the connections.

Even though projects improve learning, not everyone gains knowledge through them. I think reflection and discussion about the project immediately following the completion is important.

As Dewey believed, inquiry leads to a notion of truth. This notion my not always be true but through experience students believe it to be true.

How do we set borders to help eliminate false truths?

Bri said...

To play the devil's advocate here, do we really need to eliminate false truth? It seems that a lot of learning comes out of challenging one's ideas and beliefs. I take truth as a transitory process, that shifts as a person defines and refines their notions. This would fit into the Deweyian notion of truth as well as the reflection noted in class.