To learn from teachers, you first have to learn about teachers.

Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 10:15 am
Two interesting new studies are coming out about early childhood learning. Both studies, done independently, came to the same conclusions.

....Daphna ran through the same nine sequences with all the children, but with one group, she acted as if she were clueless about the toy. ("Wow, look at this toy. I wonder how it works? Let's try this," she said.) With the other group, she acted like a teacher. ("Here's how my toy works.") When she acted clueless, many of the children figured out the most intelligent way of getting the toy to play music (performing just the two key actions, something Daphna had not demonstrated). But when Daphna acted like a teacher, the children imitated her exactly, rather than discovering the more intelligent and more novel two-action solution.

.....They provide scientific support for the intuitions many teachers have had all along: Direct instruction really can limit young children's learning. Teaching is a very effective way to get children to learn something specific—this tube squeaks, say, or a squish then a press then a pull causes the music to play. But it also makes children less likely to discover unexpected information and to draw unexpected conclusions.

....For example, if you know how teachers work, you tend to assume that they are trying to be informative. When the teacher in the tube-toy experiment doesn't go looking for hidden features inside the tubes, the learner unconsciously thinks: "She's a teacher. If there were something interesting in there, she would have showed it to me." These assumptions lead children to narrow in, and to consider just the specific information a teacher provides. Without a teacher present, children look for a much wider range of information and consider a greater range of options.


The article points out several times that teachers already know this to be true. So how did we get from what teachers know to what is happening in school? Political pressure? Parental pressure? Or, does it simply become unreasonable/impracticable/chaotic/time consuming to let children continue to explore?

Teachers, I'd love to hear what you think of these studies!
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Type: Question • Score: 3 • Views: 1,539 • Replies: 7
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 10:44 am
i think a lot of the rigidity of education has to do with parents and governments demands for quantified results

i always liked a less structured way of learning myself
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 10:48 am
Not a teacher, but I liked that article.. read it a few weeks ago.
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 11:56 am
I think it has to do with speed. If you are in a strange city and you need to get from point A to B, you can ask a stranger or use a GPS which will tell you how to do it or you can explore the city on your own. If you explore, you will learn a lot more about the city and be able to navigate much better in the future... and it will take you all day to get to your destination. The GPS gets you there in ten minutes.
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 12:26 pm
Me too!

In fact I came up with a cool idea the other day when I was painting a wall. Typically when I paint I do A, then B, then C, and so on. The latest room required me to do C, then A, then D, then B. Getting outside my rut gave me an inspiration for a cool construction type tool. We're looking around to have a prototype made!
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 12:29 pm
I'd love to read the full studies but they were $45.00 each. I'll be keeping my eyes open to see if they are being reported elsewhere.
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 12:30 pm
And you'll learn more by walking instead of driving.
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Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2011 12:31 pm
Why do you suppose we're in such a hurry?

I read the other day about a woman suing a New York preschool because all her 3 year old was learning was numbers and shapes. She was expecting solid academics.
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