Monday, October 8, 2012

P. 94-104 Reflection

Education has grown and evolved immensely over time.  Education began as apprentice style learning where students were taught particular skills by someone close to them usually one on one or in small groups.  Over time education evolved to teach students a wide range of disciplinary knowledge in large classrooms with one teacher, usually done through lecture.  Now, education is moving towards teaching a skill set to students. The idea is that we will now teach students how to learn.  We will teach them how to get the answers to questions they want when they want them as opposed to teaching them as many of the answers as we can.  We will teach them to think critically, ask the right questions, and use technology to make them most desirable in the working world where having a mind full of disciplinary facts is no longer desirable.

I couldn't agree more that teaching students how to learn is the way we should shift education.  There are five areas that students should develop skills in, resources, interpersonal, information, systems, and technology.  This seems like only a few things to teach students as opposed to what they used to need to know but I feel as though this may be impossible, there will be many obstacles in shifting education to this style of learning.  These five core competencies can merely be introduced throughout  the school years, there is no way that students can master or even become proficient in these areas, they encompass far too much.  Another difficulty of teaching these competencies  I believe will be teacher willingness.  Many of the older teachers do not want to change the way they've been doing things.  I think it will be a long transition period with newer teachers slowly working this type of learning into the curriculum until every teacher teaches in this way.  It could take thirty years at this rate.

Although I agree that this type of learning style is the way education should be moving I think the authors are a little too ambitious and feel as though this is a system already in place.  I think we are years and years away from being anywhere near that type of learning.  Some teachers at Haverhill High have begun to introduce the five core competencies into their teaching but for the most part teachers still teach disciplinary information.  They have no choice to with the requirements from the state and the MCAS.  For example, if there was one teacher who decided it was more beneficial for her students to learn right now learning and she taught them how to effectively utilize technology, how to ask the right questions and how to think critically about selecting the correct answer that student would be far more successful in the "real world".  But, would that student even graduate high school?  Would they be able to pass the MCAS, a test where they have to have disciplinary information memorized and stored in their brain?  Probably not.  I think that before we can even begin to move in the direction of learning to learn education the state needs to change the requirements to reflect that learning.  For example, there could still be an assessment but it could be a format that ensures the students utilize the five core competencies.  Students could be required to create portfolios with specific requirements instead of taking a standardized test.  It was said best by Collins and Halverson, "We think that in the life-long learning era, people interested in advancing their own learning will begin to take back responsibility for education from the state."

Unfortunately, my cooperating teacher and I find ourselves saying this far too often.


  1. Great image to capture the realities of far too many classrooms.

    In Biology class, do the students get to be biologists? Or are they simply taking notes from the teachers shared knowledge?

    Imagine what one could learn if they were an apprentice for a biologist?

  2. It is a combination in the class I am in. The teacher does allow them to do a lot of activities and labs but there are definitely still days where the students need to take notes and memorize the information. There is no other way around it. Its really unfortunate.

    It is truly unbelievable the amount students could learn if they were an apprentice. I studied biology for four years in college and thought I knew a lot. However, I spent the last year working at Harvard under a doctor and I learned ten times as much in that year as I did in all of college. It is crazy.

  3. Sad that MCAS is driving instruction at the school. Hard to blame teachers if that is the goal from Administration and the State.