Content and Strategy Centered Teaching & Learning (CSCTL)
A recent Ed-Week writer stated, “there is nothing we do not know about how student learn.” This claim may be interpreted as saying all the ways to help students to learn optimally are known. This is false. This author is suggesting that students who dropped out of school or their teachers are to blame for the failures, but not schools of education or school administrators that produce and guide teachers respectively (Dewey, 1934). To say that “there is nothing we do not know about how student learn” what is implied is that they know everything about how students learn; therefore, students who underperform or drop out of school are ones who cannot hack it. In other words, student may want to succeed, but students who drop out of school do so because they do not have what it takes to succeed. This claim contradicts the slogan, “all students can learn.” This slogan might not have been intended to indicate that all students can achieve doctoral level learning, but it does mean that all student who want to succeed in school, viz, all students have the capacity to learn, all students can enhance their capacities to achieve a more fulfilled life experience (Jonas 2014). A student who drops out of school seeking other ways to achieve h/her objectives may be delusional, but when this happens, the school would have failed; for, the purpose of school is to help clear up such false dreams? Here, the error in blaming students for school failures is addressed; the error in blaming teachers is reserved for the future.
The claim “there is nothing unknown about how students learn,” may be intentional. It implies that everything that needs to be done has been done; that there is no need to be concerned about or fund programs that explain how students learn. The author seems intending to maintain the conditions in which underperforming students continue to underperform and thus to justify the claim that students fail because the students cannot do better. The claim, “there is nothing we do not know about how students learn,” (with the phrase, yet some students underperform) is rooted in the same agenda in which one can claim that there are some ‘shit hole’ countries that produce ‘shit hole’ people. They pull these off by painting a picture of all students as having the same stimulating school experiences; but they fail to notice that students not only underperform, they also dropped out of the school. African American students want to excel but they are mostly disenchanted with school processes that do to address their concerns. Schools do not respond to or address their interest (Dewey 1934), and many African American students do not continue to resist the pressures of their concerns. In other words, claiming “there is nothing we do not know about how students learn,” in spite of student disenchantments, indicates that the claimers have no clue about why students underperform or drop out. These writers may be well connected, and together they maintain the vicious circles of problems for African American and Spanish students. The truth, however, is that all students do not have equal access.
To say, “there is nothing we do not know about how students learn” is to imply that the reason students underperform or drop out is that the students are lazy. However, able bodied students drop out of school because they see (rightly or wrongly) better alternatives than what the schools offer; these students are mostly African American or Spanish; therefore, for the racist minded writer, the students’ inclinations are because of their races. They would ask, why then do African American, having the same learning opportunities as others underperform? This is a fundamental question that has been addressed in Dewey’s concepts of students’ interest. Dewey (1934) indicated that the events and occurrences in the person’s environment greatly influence if not determine a person’s tendencies and outcome. The events and occurrences in people’s environment include all (home, street or school) their experiences. In other words, student underperform because there is nothing in the lessons to address their experiences, to elicit their interests, and students drop out of school because the students, influenced by their experiences, sees such as the better option than staying in school (Dewey 1934).
Children from stable homes (mostly Caucasian children) are made ready to learn; they are aware of the benefits that they receive because of their parents’ education. They go home to environments where every child takes school seriously; their friends and family members value education; they see that their families attach great values to education because of what they have achieved through it, and the children compete among themselves to do as their parents and to reflect those values. On the contrary, many African American and Spanish children are treated to negative experiences. African American and Spanish parents are asked to encourage children in school learning; they are asked to do homework with their children even though they might not have such level of education; to respond quickly whenever the schools call even when they might not have the time because they must keep orders of uncompromising employer to make end meet, or attend parent-teacher and board meetings to identify school problems even though they have not had the time to think the problems and thus cannot articulate any problem. When the African American and Spanish parents answer to these restrictions, they are accused of not encouraging their children or described as uninterested in their children’s education.
African American families are essentially asked to fake it, and the children are expected to not be aware of the failures of the parents, communities and governments. However, African American and Spanish children are sharp, they might not be able to articulate their concerns because of their ages, but they see that they are being shortchanged. This sharpness, deadened usually after years of neglect, of not being exercised in addressing their concerns often appear as natural, but at the beginning they are just as if not more gifted than the others; they have the same capacities which, if nourished, are made for great scientific advancements. Nevertheless, African American and Spanish families and children are expected to live desperate lives, yet respond and perform without reflecting those realities in what they do. The researchers continue to compare and label children from differing environments and backgrounds without referencing the events that motivated them differently. Policy maker, armed with a false claim such as “there is nothing we do not know about how student learn” justify themselves to fund these biased philosophies in the name of science, and the vicious circle continues for the African American and Spanish children. We can do better (David Edwards, 2014)
Martin Odudukudu, CEO, www.cdoil.org/nyite.html
Research based Best Practice Teaching and Learning
Many teachers are more concerned with content than with student interest. Many teachers who have not learned to develop lesson plans to address student interest will and often focus exclusively upon content. They do not help students learn how to learn, and students do not develop the strategies to simplify tasks and/or develop increased interest in learning tasks. When students are not learning how to learn, they do not learn independently or build the knowledge base necessary to understand connections among concepts. Most students never learn that they could modify concepts, so they continue to believe that the purpose of learning is just to pass pencil and paper tests. They often wait upon teachers to provide the information; consequently, when students must prepare for and take tests they put up great efforts to accumulate much discrete and disconnected concepts in order to pass tests. However, without literacy of strategies, students do not engage learning tasks enough to develop familiarity, thus the preparation necessary to pass the common core tests; and many students do not see how school learning related to or address real life problems.
Without knowledge of the methods and/or functions of discipline literacy, teacher focus is often restricted to helping students to grasp concepts of subject matters as paramount, not the functions of the subject matter in students real life situation; thus, such teacher is said to be content-centered. Teacher may focus exclusively upon content of instruction at the expense of student concerns (what students need to develop in order to understand concepts). Teacher who focus exclusively upon content cannot and does not help student to develop understanding of advantage and thus interest in learning tasks. Students attend to tasks only in the extent that student can understand advantage of tasks. When teacher fails to help student develop or understand connections among concepts, students continue to perceive and treat concepts as distinct from and unrelated to one another. Students continue to believe that the main purpose of learning is to pass test; therefore, they memorize/accumulate and to regurgitate disconnected concepts during tests.
Students do not merely want to pass test; students also want to learn with interest and to excel in what they choose to do/learn. Students put great efforts into learning; but students often find that the efforts students put into learning only yield little of what they really want. Without interest, students may put up great efforts, but students often find that their great effort only culminate in accumulating and/or memorizing discrete and disconnected concepts. **HERE Furthermore, to memorize and/or accumulate discrete and disconnected concepts are much more difficult than learning with increased interest, yet this traditional learning method do not help to achieve the desired standard. To develop interest in learning tasks, students need to also understand how interesting tasks help students to more effectively gain advantage in live. In the training services that we offer, we emphasis the needs for teachers to understand student interest; we emphasize how teachers may understand student concerns and help them to learn optimally.
Students do not engage in learning how to learn just by being directly engaged with hands-on tasks. Student may be hands-on but not minds-on task. Hands-on tasks imply that student is engaged with the practical/objective perspective of learning. Being hands-on tasks/activities or being engaged with the practical perspective of learning may necessitate application of student’s cognitive efforts. Here, however, student cognitive engagement of learning tasks may be independent of teacher; that is, not initiated or guided by teacher. In hands-on tasks, teacher’s concern is in regard to the practical and/or objective perspective but not cognitive engagement of tasks; cognitive engagement of tasks would not be teacher’s intended but a by-product (or an unintended product) of tasks. The extent of student cognitive involvement in learning is wholly dependent upon students’ other experiences. Therefore, student may not be learning how to learn; student may not be learning optimally.
Minds-on learning activities/tasks, on the other hand, requires that imply that student is engaged with the practical perspective of learning. ….. With hands-on tasks
Get the GTTL professional development or the GTTL lesson plan and/or template, and give your students the push they need to meet the standard: (cut and paste) cdoil.org/request and cdoil.org/publication respectively.
Recently, many writers are emphasizing the need to understand these two perspectives of student interest, and they have developed or at least have suggested instructional models that reflect these research supported/backed views of student learning. In many other places, Moore (2005) talks about content and strategy disciplines, pointing out that with content literacy, student learn to read, without strategy literacy, students may know how to read, but such achievement does not translate and help student to explore knowledge in the domain. Moore (2005) accordingly differentiates between hand-on from mind-on teaching and learning, and so on. Carlile & Jordan (2005), in expounding the theory of student-centered teaching and learning, also differentiate between proactive and active learning. Gibbs (1995) emphasizes the same concept when he points out that student-centered learning is about active but not passive learning or passive rather than active teaching. We espouse these views and apply them to help students learn optimally.
Thought Processes vs. Thought Mechanisms
Cognition, when considered from the stand point of taking both subjective/pure and objective thinking as the same, one does not differentiate thought mechanism from a thought process. According to Allison (2001), however, how thought must be (or thought mechanism) in order to receives and/or perceives occurrences is not the same as thought process through which one determines and represents an occurrence as an object. Without the former, without a thought mechanism, one does not receive/perceive occurrences, but without a thought process, one would not and one does not develop and/or represent an occurrence as a unique object able to enter into unique relationships with others. In other words, a thought process is a method once found to be convenient, effective and efficient, and accordingly used frequently and continually. The result of frequently using a process is that the process may develop into a “second nature,” and a “second nature” may be referred to as a learning style.
To teach complex or higher order thinking, empiricist educators emphasize thought processes and related developments (learning styles) through which students may represent occurrences. They emphasize learning/dominant styles students develop and maintain because students find them convenient, effective and efficient. Paradoxically, an individual “may also to hold tight to behaviors that do not work,” Joyce et al (2009, P. 321). Student may develop attachment to a learning style that may not be the best. When teacher emphasizes student learning style over and above student capacities they conflate thought process with thought mechanism, and the teaching may not be optimal; teacher is more concerned with a less thought product than the thought itself. Therefore, teacher may be helping students to develop process that students already found effective and efficient, and that develop on their own accord, but not thought (mechanism) through which student receives and develop understanding and/or change an ineffective process/style that student may find to be ineffective and inefficient.
Reflective Learning and Interest
Interest, reflected in what student does in an actual task situation depends upon the thinking capacity that student deploys prior to getting into the situation. Interest that guides or through which student determines what a student does in a task situation is directly related to student thinking that has gone before. Through thinking, student determines advantage of tasks or situation and what student must do in order to secure determined/represented advantage. Therefore, with practiced thinking, students develops better understanding of perspectives of things, and student develops a personal understanding of what student must do to gain advantage. Consequently, when teacher emphasizes and focuses instructional to helping student develop student thinking, student learn to develop increased understanding of perspectives/advantage, and student tends to persevere with tasks. In other words, student interest is a function of or dependent upon how well student can figure out the advantage of a tasks.
For example, in a task situation, student may finds tasks as expected or as difficult. When student finds tasks as expected, student simple engages tasks and continue to express interest. Otherwise, student does not continue to express interest for and/or engage such a task; rather, student is said to encounter a hindrance or an obstacle. This may be because student has not explored and/or determined the advantage of the task clearly enough; the student has not acquired capacity to see or determine advantage of the task. Therefore, at the occurrence of hindrance or obstacle, student does not continue to engage task or secure a determined advantage. Rather, student may withdraw from task to size up the situation and/or determine advantage of task or to figure out a next best option. Thus, once again, student may embark upon figuring out a next best option, and student is said to operate purely and thus independently of an object and/or an actual task situation.
Accordingly, in an actual task situation, thinking which had been seeking to secure an object as planned or as determined and had therefore been said to be objective must now again change from being objective to being subjective. Therefore, an objective thinking intended to secure an advantage in an actual task situation may also include subjective thinking or thinking that is independent of an object but intended to clarify an advantage of a situation. In other words, subjective thinking which is intended to clarify an advantage, and thus independent of an actual task situation, may not completely be without an object. For, thinking must ascribe certain characteristics and as it have a focus/object or refer to an object to determine it.
Similarly, pure/subjective thinking intended to clarify an advantage in an actual situation, and thus independent of an object, may also include objective thinking or thinking that responds directly to the demands of object in an objective situation. For, thinking, when pure (when all fails and one must think with increased independence of or without object) refers to an intended purpose of or an advantage of self as a standard in virtue of which one determine an object as good enough for self. On the other hand, when thinking is objective, thinking is said to relating to external objects or objects in an actual task situation. Here, thinking does not completely be or operate without referring to an object as standard. For, otherwise, one would be seeking to secure an object only because it appears, one would be seeking to secure an undefined/undetermined object, and this may be impossible.
In the training services we offer, we emphasis the importance of understanding student interest; we emphasize how student actions are mediated by student thoughts/understanding. We develop the instructional methods of Goal and Task Teaching and Learning (GTTL), With the GTTL, teachers only slightly modify their instructional delivery methods; teachers integrate discipline and/or strategy literacy methods with their usually overly content loaded instructional delivery methods. Here, the emphasis is not merely about how best to deliver content or how best to help student receive/accumulate concepts/content; rather, the emphasis is about how best to deliver instruction and to engage students in developing increased interest in learning.
Get the GTTL professional development or the GTTL lesson plan and/or template, and give your students the push they need to meet the standard: (cut and paste) cdoil.org/request and cdoil.org/publication.
Many parents and teachers dislike the common core standard with a passion. Other parents and teachers hear the horror stories about the common core; they too do not like what they hear. Therefore, many parents and teachers believe the common core standard harms more than helps the students. These stories about the common core are mostly false and misplaced. The common core standard is about raising students’ standards or levels of learning and performance, but not the level of difficulty of tasks. The common core standard is about raising students’ level of learning and/or performance standards, not about raising students’ experiences of difficult learning tasks. When students learn well, they perform at higher levels; but it does not necessarily follow that students will learn and operate at higher levels because students engage in difficult learning task. The belief that the more we can force students to engage difficult learning tasks, the more students can perform at higher levels is a philosophy of “advocate of efforts;” this is erroneous, John Dewey (1934).
I recently scanned a sixth grade practice test and I was horrified by it, to say the least. The title of the passage reads “Amber of a moon,” and it went on to talk about “a moon sitting on my roof;” a shooting star giggling and exploding into a gold of fire and so on. One might think that the passage is intended to help the student to learn about “personification,” but with one strange word after another in every other sentence and in a seven or so paragraphs, there were just enough strange and/or difficult vocabulary words in the passage to confuse and frustrated most sixth graders. My experience as a teacher tells me that many sixth grade would not have learned so many strange and complex phrases/words. Furthermore, there was nothing interesting in the passage; nothing in the passage that would help a sixth grader, fresh from a system that had been declared unsuitable and in need of reform, to persevere with the task of learning concepts of the passage. On the other hand, most teachers/educators want to help students to learn well; they accept the vision of common core standard as a better substitute for the old system of things; however, they inadvertently maintain the old systems by continuing to operate without considering effects of the materials and methods they use. They often equate a capacity to engage (and/or even accomplish) difficult tasks with a capacity to independently recognize how and when to necessitate and accomplish tasks.
A teachers who does not differentiate a capacity to engage (and/or even accomplish) difficult tasks from a capacity to independently recognize how and when to generate and accomplish tasks is likely to assign difficult tasks to students regardless of whether or not students have interest in such tasks. Such teachers are also most likely to misinterpret the spirit and purpose of the common core. A teacher who does not differentiate the two capacities is likely to engage students in unnecessarily difficult tasks. The result is that at the end of the difficult engagements, many students often breathe a sigh of relief. Thereafter, many of them may not even want to think about or remember the ordeal they associated with the difficult tasks. They start to develop opposition towards the tasks. They develop increased mental aversion base upon imagined heartache they expect to receive in another similar task situation. They do not voluntarily look forward to a similar task or situation; how much more engage themselves to independently create it. When given the choice, many of the students would and often choose to do something else rather than engage learning tasks. They would have been traumatized by being coerced to engage unnecessarily difficult leaning task. Furthermore, many of the teachers/educators who are opposed to this philosophy of efforts often take the other extreme opposite measure; they advocate for student autonomy, (John 1934).
Learning difficult materials
The contents of a subject matter become difficult to learn when they feature too many elements that are competing for the learners’ attention. Maryellen Weimer (2012). A students’ view of the elements competing for student attention may depend upon the learner. For example, a student who is familiar with elements or concepts that he or she must learn may not be bothered by the quantity or complexity of the materials. If a learner is familiar with a material, the material may not hinder the learner’s efforts and/or be a cause or a source of difficulties for the learner. So, one of the ways to help student to learn well is to raise the amount of time they spend in learning the materials. This may be very difficult to do with a class period of forty five (45) or so minutes; too many concepts, but too little time. The alternative, which is a justification for teaching students to learn how to learn, is to help student develop increased interest in learning. With interest in learning, students go out on their own to engage tasks because of the relevance of the tasks to students concerns. Thus, learning tasks and student interest reinforce each other, and students continue to learn independently. Teaching students to develop interest in learning is a radical approach to teaching. Developing and consolidating these methods requires a shared view of students interest and of the teaching methods.
Ordinarily, sixth grade students, for example do not learn independently. Independently, grade school students may learn to play and/or even to apply themselves to assigned tasks, but they do not independently search and discover concepts relating to personification. To learn independently, a student would have learned how to learn. For this, a student would have learned, not only to understand the concepts, but also would have been learning how learn; that is, how learning tasks are related (relevant) to their concerns. To independently engage, search and discover concepts, the student would have acquired a capacity of learning how to learn. This is another way of saying that one can acquire a capacity to solve equations, but not a capacity to independently learn other aspects of the subject. To learn because one knows how to learn; one would have learned not merely how a concept relates to another, but also how the concepts relate to one’s concerns. Unfortunately, we do not train our teachers to differentiate a method of teaching the concepts from a method of teaching how to learn independently. Our teachers do not learn the methods or teach students to learn how to learn. Many teachers are not familiar with the methods of helping students to develop increased interest in learning. Recently, many educators have a culprit in the common core standard; they blame the common core standard for the educational problems. Nevertheless, they often use whatever comes handy and make learning difficult for students.
Students engage difficult task our of compulsion; this involves stepping out of one’s comfort zone, taking a risk in which one is uncertain about result (success or failure). Taking a risk may be concluded with success; thus, of developing increased confidence. Otherwise, taking a risk may be concluded with failure, and thus, of the likelihood of developing increased diffidence. In other words, students are opposed to stepping out of their comfort zones because of the risk of or wish to avoid developing increased diffidence. Where one can step out with confidence, this stepping out could be a result of past successful experiences that reinforce one another and thus of such confidence. Otherwise, one may fail to step out of one’s comfort zone or step out with little or no confidence, and not be stimulated to consider and evaluate the task positively. One without confidence often perceive even the simplest/easiest of learning tasks as difficult. One who perceives tasks as difficult only engages such task and/or step out of one’s comfort zone when coerced by another or circumstances. One who is diffident would naturally avoid difficult tasks to protect selves against further damage to their confidence.
One who succeeds at a task, on the other hand, is more likely to engage such task more than another who fails. In other words, people are opposed to difficult/hard tasks not because the tasks are truly hard, but because they cannot figure out and/or represent benefits/advantage of the task enough to overcome their aversion/opposition to the tasks. Rather than see and determine and sustain the vision that an advantage in a present task far outweighs a next one, and to accordingly remain with, accomplish task and secure its determined advantages, one who is diffident and opposed to difficult tasks often see the wounded ego they sustained from a previous failure, and thus, another further failure and a further wound to the ego that awaits in a present task. They cannot see that they could accomplish difficult the tasks; that they strive to avoid tasks because they failure to determine and/or represent benefits/advantages of the tasks enough to overcome their opposition to it. One who is diffident cannot see that he/she can grow, acquire skills, and become able to accomplish the difficult task through practice. In other words, one can learn that failure is a part of success. However, this would be because, in spite of everything else, one has interest; one has developed a capacity to see and to sustain the vision that they can successfully accomplish a given task.
Intent of the common core
Authors of the common core standard do not intend for students to engage in the difficult tasks that many publishers of test and practice/learning materials have made it to be. The common core standard is not intended to horrify parent, teachers/educators and/or students. The common core standard is intends to point out and/or emphasize standards of performance appropriate for and expected from every students at every level of educational achievement. The common core standard is intended to explain what the students must be doing at their various stages of development in order to graduate and become effective members of the society. The intention behind the common core standard, which is to point out what students should be doing at the various stages of growth in order to meet the national standard of development has been interpreted erroneously as what student must be doing without teaching and training students to attain such standard. Instead of developing learning tasks and methods that are humane and that stimulate students to attain such standard, most educators believe that the common core standard is simply about finding out how or what students must be learning at their various stages of development and engaging students in such tasks. Most educators engage students in the difficult, higher levels learning tasks regardless of whether or not the students have or not developed such skills.
One might argue as some advocates of home-school learning do, that our public school education has fallen two or more years behind. One might further or therefore argue that bringing our students to the desirable levels of performances require hard work and still make a relevant point. Here, however, we must not fail to notice that we may accordingly still be using a past standards and possibly with all its elements that we set out to reform as the desirable measure or benchmark of the success we seek. There is nothing wrong with working hard if working hard means that we can then achieve our set goals and objective and excel. However, where a teacher simply engages students in drudgery with little or no connection between assigned tasks and student concerns; where a teacher simply engages students without facilitating students to see the need to think and to figure out a best personal approach to accomplishing tasks, students may simply engage task, waste valuable efforts and not get in the running to achieve one’s goals of education. Teachers may throw caution to the wind and continue to engage students in unnecessarily difficult tasks and make some gains; however, we would still be operating at a substandard levels of our efforts and not be doing the best possible for our students and ourselves.
In spite of the much noises about the common core standard, some teachers are still able to teach well. Some teachers still strive to integrate student interest and/or concerns with concepts of the subject matter. Many teachers are still able to consider students’ subject and predicate process of thinking; they still avoid teaching strictly to text or simply to fit in with and/or placate the public/popular perceptions, assumptions and views about teaching and learning. They do not simply teach to text or prepare their students for tests, they are also focused to prepare the students for a world of work and/or learning. Teachers who can integrate student interest and/or concerns with concepts of instructions do not confuse student desire with students interest. They often seek to differentiate instructional processes and materials that facilitate students to learn/think but without coordination from instructional processes and materials that facilitate students to focus upon the subjective and predicate relations of concepts of instruction. In other words, some teachers may use personal resources and help students to learn how to learn; however, many other teachers may not be so lucky to receive such support consistently and to help students build the confidence necessary to excel in learning.
Generally, teachers want students to learn and excel; they want materials that would help students to learns and pass well. Publishers of the learning and test practice materials that they must use, on the other hand, develop these learning materials with a different purpose and focus. Publishers who develop the learning and practice materials that teachers use in our schools, first and foremost, want profit. Their main drive and/or motivation is profit; the only thing that limits them and forces them to produce materials of any considerable level of quality at all is so they can have anything to say to convince the buyers and sell the materials. Publishers of school book, learning and test material often seek consideration and cooperation from school leaders and/or decision makers. Where they can get away with it, they often do so without a second thought. Many publisher often do not employ researchers with excellent understanding of the human learning processes and to develop books that help students to learn well. Rather than employ researchers who understand human learning processes, most publisher often employ subject researchers who may explain the specific subject but not how children learn these subjects. Therefore, to achieve higher levels of learning and performance, they produce difficult material and thus engage students in these difficult materials, and they frustrate teachers, parents and students alike.
Teachers want effective teaching and learning material; however, many teachers may not have access and are not privy to characteristics/qualities of the materials and/or student learning outcome through which the teaching and learning material may be described as effective. To teach and help students perform at higher levels, many educators/teachers use these materials produced by those who often believe that learning materials have to be difficult in order to help student learn at higher levels. Most of these difficult teaching and learning materials, however, may be unrelated to student needs, experiences and concerns, and therefore, uninteresting. Some teachers find them to be unduly difficult and are horrified to think that they have to engage their students in such unnecessarily difficult learning tasks. Other teachers believe and often simply engage students in the difficult tasks, believing that the student would soon catch up and perform at a higher level. The result is that many student become increasingly disenchanted. Many students ascribe little or no advantage/benefit to school learning; other students simply give up school learning altogether. This trend continues largely because of the great canyon of divide between the understanding of the authors of the common core and the entrepreneurs who prepare the learning/practice materials.
Goal and Task Teaching and Learning (GTTL)
No student is truly educated, especially if the education is independent and/or in spite of how the student sees, represents and/or understands his or her concerns (occurrence and experiences). Teaching and learning process that seek to educate a student in spite of student capacity to sees/represents or understands his or her concern, is a process that would disregard the student’s interest; and such education is false. Students’ efforts and attentions are mostly in regard to what and how they know. Students are motivated to develop increased interest in learning and are motivated to apply themselves to tasks when they can see that/how concepts of a subject matter have positive connections to their concerns. Therefore the instructional methods of Goal and Task Teaching and Learning (GTTL) is focused upon helping students to develop increased interest in learning.
Transforming teaching into a scientific practice -- A search for a Knowledge Base
1. A big problem of education is because we do not have a Knowledge Base (KB) for the teaching practice and the teaching practice is not scientific. A Knowledge Base of a domain is the constraining factor of a domain that holds activities of the domain together as a unit and as uniquely different from another. A Knowledge Base of a domain helps to determine what to or not to do in order to maintain integrity of the domain; it is the factor in a domain through which activities in a domain may transform into a scientific practice. In other words, with a Knowledge Base (KB) of a domain, one can call up an experience and learn from it. However, we do not have a KB for the teaching domain; therefore, teachers do not learn rules about what to or not do to reinforce progress in the teaching domain and/or help teaching to become increasingly effective. Yes, we have rules for teachers, but these rules are mostly about how to "keep your job" but not how to reinforce the profession. So, we say that teaching is not scientific.
2. Without a KB for the teaching profession, teachers do not develop a view of students that is applicable to all students; research findings and developments in the teaching domain cannot build upon itself and no accumulation of knowledge of teaching could be built up and/or made available for other/future teachers. Therefore, the teaching practice cannot be said to be a scientific practice and/or have the means to become as effective as necessary. Many great teachers may occasionally grace the profession, discover and use effective strategies and help students to learn well. However, because there is no KB in place to determine, evaluate and consolidate new findings in the domain, researchers may discover new ways of teaching, but we do not harness such new discoveries. Therefore, we say that we do not have a process for growing the teaching profession or that teaching is unscientific.
3. In every scientific practice, there is a KB; there is a process for searching and learning about new methods; there are also processes/rules for discovering, sharing and incorporating new findings and for improving the domain and its activities. Methods and activities of a scientific domain, implying an existence of a KB in the domain, often help to achieve progressive goals and objectives in in domain. Researching, sharing/accepting and incorporating new findings in a domain help to develop the KB of a domain; and the KB of a domain, in turn, helps to reinforce effectiveness of activities in the domain; the KB and activities of a domain are mutually reinforcing to each other.
4. Furthermore, in the medical field, we do not say that a certain race/group are more likely to get ovarian cancer, that we must therefore gear medical research to treat only such race. Rather, we recognize that the subject matter (human physiology) are more or less the same, and we research and develop treatment of ovarian cancer accordingly. Systems and processes in the education field should also be modeled after the same scientific processes and methods; otherwise, we are likely to maintain our educational problems. We should not be researching and developing methods of teaching in accordance to the presenting problems of an individual student or a group of students.
More about Transforming teaching into a scientific practice in the near future.
“Every school day brings something new, but there is one status quo most parents expect: homework. The old adage that practice makes perfect seems to make sense when it comes to schoolwork. But, while hunkering down after dinner amongst books and worksheets might seem like a natural part of childhood, there's more research now than ever suggesting that it shouldn't be so.” By Hanna Makurbi (2010).
1. Hanna Makurbi (2010).seems to have created another difficult in understanding interest by suggesting that interest research is concerned about students’ interest in how students learn.” Hanna Makurbi (2010).states that getting a student to “hunker down after dinner amongst books and worksheets’ is a bad idea.” First of all, a concern about students’ interest cannot be a concern about students’ interest in how they learn, it is rarely about students’ interest in learning; rather, it is about how to help students develop increased interest in learning. To say that a research on students’ interest concerns “students’ interest in how they learn,” as Hanna Makurbi (2010).does, is to make a foundational assumption; that is, that student knows what learning, learning processes or method is of interest to them, and therefore, to help others understand it. As adults, we know without a doubt that especially children cannot possibly knows what learning, learning processes or methods is of interest to them; we know that children operate “blindly,” and that a child figures out what he or she wants or must do only gradually as his or her intelligence unfolds. We know that, a child unguided will most likely not be as successful and satisfied as one that is guided.
2. No researcher, parent or teacher worth the name will complain if they can individually or collectively get a student interested in learning to the extent of “hunkering down after dinner amongst books and worksheets.” Provided a student will gain by “hunkering down after dinner amongst books and worksheets,” no parent, teacher or researcher would be loosing any sleep over such an outcome. Therefore, one must reformulate, Hanna Makurbi (2010) attempted reconstruction of interest from being about “students’ concern or interest in how they learn” into being about adults’ concerns in how adult are to guide students without a need to impose task upon the students. Everyone will agree that any method that imposes task upon students could be harmful. Nevertheless, many researchers and educators still believe that unless an adult can impose task upon a child and force the child to in a predetermined direction, such a child will most likely device ways, secretly or not, to subvert/sabotage adult efforts in order to have his or her way. Therefore, we have advocates of drill/efforts versus advocate of students’ growing interests; thus, the classical arguments about students interest
3. The classical argument on behalf of effort reads as follows; “life is filled with things we don't like to do, and that homework (an imposed task) teaches discipline, time management and other nonacademic life skills”. That life is filled with unpleasant tasks and “…imposing tasks upon students teach self-discipline, time management and other nonacademic skills” is true. However, when a student engages a task in which he has the least (or no) interest, the student does not give his full attention to such task. According to Dewey (185), even where a clever disciplinarian could make students do assigned tasks, the student learns to do just enough of the task to keep the disciplinarian away while he secretly devote his rest attention to matters that are truly important to him. The result, according to Dewey, is that a student gets self-discipline alright, but discipline in divided attention, and the unspeakable havoc and human retrogression that come with it. Proponents of drill and effort take their beliefs to the extremes, when they intimidate students in order to get students to accomplish tasks.
4. On the opposing side, proponents of “interests” argue that “If kids have no choice in the matter of homework (imposed tasks), the children would not be learning to exercise judgment, and they would instead be losing their sense of autonomy. There is also no argument about this. That a child will lose his sense of autonomy if he or she does not use or exercise it is also true. However, when kids are given choices over homework, over whether or not to engage task, we know what they will do; we know that they will make and very often continue to make uninformed decisions. By letting kids do what captures their interests in the name of helping them to develop autonomy one leaves the children’s upbringing to chance; such children will most likely continues to make uninformed decision and become self centered. This could also be dangerous. Proponents of “interest” take their beliefs to the extremes, when they sugar-coat uninteresting tasks in order to get students to engage such tasks: they offer candies, cookies, pencils, or make promises they may not keep and so on.
5. Both sides of this divide have legitimate issues in the charges they lobbed again each other. However, one purport to advocate for interest, but in actuality may be doing the opposite. In such a place where this becomes very obvious, we put interest in quotation; for example, as in proponents of “interests” used in second paragraph. The quotation is to differentiate between interest as defined by Dewey and other “interests” as defined by advocates of hands-off task (homework) philosophies. The quotation is intended to indicate that one could claim to be an advocate of “interest,” but yet not be talking about interest. As Dewey explains, there is a middle ground in the contention between advocate of effort and advocates of “interest”. Interest in which a child is allowed to follow his or her whim is not (in) the child’s true interest; there is nothing of interest to a child who is allowed to follow his or her whim and make uninformed decisions/choices. Similarly, interest in which a child is coerced to accomplish a learning task surely does not reflect a consideration of the child’s true interest.
6. Advocates of efforts or task masters calling for a need to impose strict discipline upon students believe that a student’s interest are strictly due to external causes (or objects); that is, that a student does not have an interest until there is an object of interest. They believe that nothing occurs without objects of the external world; everything in the universe is due to objective interactions. They are collectively referred to as the empiricists; empiricists operate with the philosophy that external objects are what dictate what one represents and accordingly the interest that one expresses. Once one “sees” (interacts with an object,) one responds according to the object. On the other hand, proponents of “hands off” philosophy operate with the assumption that an individual student is uniquely different from another; therefore, each student must be given as much freedom as possible to develop as much autonomy and a system of leaning. Here, however, external objects have little or no effect at all in what one represents and thus the interest that one expresses. In this camp, one receives an objective occurrence, but such an occurrence does not participate in one’s representation of the object; rather, one unilaterally decides to represent an occurrence as an object.
7. Philosophy of interest as explicated and expounded by John Dewey and now by researchers at the Center for Development of Interest in Learning is opposed to these two extreme claims, above. At the Center for Development of Interest in Learning, we are opposed to the claims we serve students well by imposing tasks upon them and/or by catering to students’ whims. Instead, following in the footsteps of John Dewey, we define interest as due to “influence of objects upon personal advantage,” John Dewey (1935). We view interest to be a product of interactions among objects. One has to be interacting with an object to be influenced by it; in other words, neither the object nor self is passive. One is in the midst of events of an object, seeking to extricate self from the events, and one is said to be interested. Otherwise, one remains as an event. In other words, the result of interacting with objects is that one “sees,” clarifies and determines an advantage, and one is said to have and express an interest.
8. When a teacher assigns a Mathematics task to a student, for example, a student may “see” little or no further advantage in the task than when he started. Without representing an advantage, what keeps student striving to accomplish task is the hearsay that education is good. Therefore, many students easily get frustrated, and they seek to engage another object/task. However, engaging another task requires thinking. In other words, a transition from one task to another involves thinking; without thinking, one engages task arbitrarily. In thinking, one is said to manifest a tendency; one “sees” and seeks to clarify an advantage of a task, and one is said to express an interest in such a task. One inclines to extricate and sustain self from influence of objects (in this case, an advantage a student “see” in Mathematics and anything opposed to securing such an advantage). Hence, Descartes’ popular phrase, “I think therefore I am.”
9. If a teacher does not help a student to “see” and advantage in Mathematics, obviously such student often may not “see” an advantage in Mathematics or in another subject. Otherwise, a student may find that he or she has an inner urging to attend to an assigned task. Here, one may successfully execute one aspect of a task after another and transit from executing one task and to executing another and one is said to be successful. Here, success is not necessarily as determined by another, but as determined by an individual for self. For example, one may successfully accomplish a task in Mathematics and decides to display his accomplishment and display himself a smart student. Here, a student may realize that Mathematics revered for its difficulties is not an out-of-rich means to display oneself as a smart student; thus, one may take another step. One is said to succeed in deploying a task plan/format and one transits from executes an aspect of a task to executing another. Consequently, interest is in place; an unfamiliar occurrence, say Mathematics, that was once an event from which one seeks to extricate self become an object bearing an advantage, an object with the means to sustain self .
10. According to this theory, the contention between advocates of interest and advocates of strict discipline of students is a false contention. We do not have teachers who intentionally impose tasks upon students or cater to their whims. A teacher may who impose tasks upon students or cater to their whims would only be doing so unintentionally, inadvertently opposed to helping students develop interest. In fact, many teachers do not impose task upon students or cater to students’ whims. What most teachers do, however, is teach and demand efforts from students, when students, in spite of their interests show themselves ready to sit, listen and perform tasks. Otherwise, a teacher is concern about how to help students in the difficult tasks of showing that they are ready to sit, listen and perform task.
11. In all the schools across the United States, the professed goal of a democratic education is to help students develop autonomy and self-empowerment; therefore, the goal of teaching is to inculcate the process of developing increased interest in learning upon students; however, in schools across the United States, teachers do not deliberately help students to develop interest in learning. Some schools do so only inadvertently. At the Center for Development of Interest in Learning, we are very aware of the desperate situation of education in the United States and we are poised to do our part. We want to transform teaching methods into a Scientific Practice in the United State and help students develop increased interest in learning?
Martin Odudukudu, CEO, Center for Development of Interest in Learning
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