Out and About: Discussion on Educational Schools of Thought

The great thing about blogs is that even though it seems like two people are having a discussion, others can join in. As Stephen Downes and I have been exchanging talking points about the various schools of educational thought, Bill Kerr has added a number of ideas and insights to the discussion as well and then took it one step further and created a summary on the discussion called _isms as filter, not blinker. It is a good post and I suggest you take a look.

Bill Kerr then added his own insights and a comment that I find resonates with me:

It seems to me that each _ism is offering something useful without any of them being complete or stand alone in their own right

I couldn’t agree more. We need to take pieces from each school of thought and apply it effectively because…Cognitivism doesn’t explain 100% how humans process information and neither does Constructivism or Behaviorism. What we need to is take the best from each philosophy and use it wisely to create solid educational experiences for our learners.

So the next question you ask is “What is the best, how do we know what makes sense or what doesn’t?” I suggest that lower level learning (lower cognitive load) requires a behaviorist approach (memorize, recognizing, labeling) as does the expectation of outcomes that must be measured. I then suggest that procedural and rule-based learning requires an emphasis on Cognitivism and finally, problem-solving, collaboration and creativity require a view of Constructivism.

The issue many forget is that “learning” is not one thing…it is a multi-layered word that tends to get treated as if it were just one thing…and it’s not. It is multi-facetted and that is why developing new models for “learning” is so difficult…there are too many levels for one school of thought or one model to do it all.

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  1. Randy Sanders January 22, 2014

    does any one person actually understand “This”? about all of the various Learning Theories that have been proposed? here we are in the last or the latest “day” of “civilization” of the entire humankind, and people with degrees and high levels of training and expertise disagree upon a variety of principles, ideas & etc. (I like etc) does anyone truly understand how we think, say or do? i don’t. and even if a “few” people reach different conclusions, just because the “try” to communicate this by using Language, does this mean that the rest of us (well, I am included in this part) actually “know” what they are talking about, the latest theories? or can we only “parrot” and repeat the words without true understanding?
    Is Language a “Limitation”?
    is it because we are “Individuals” that we can only see a “part” of the puzzle apart and not one person can grasp the entirety of the “situation”? and even then history shows that whatever we think “now” will probably be replaced, displaced or disregarded and discarded within several years. (if not sooner)
    Is there a way to communicate “true understanding”? does it involve using words? or is there some other method of communicating that would work more “precisely”? without using words?
    Does our “mind” have a “mind” of its own? Is Language actually thought? i am not very well informed, but i am reading a wide variety of information. Overload is an understatement. i got more questions Today than i did yesterday.
    Is There a “wiki” where each statement is posted, debated and altered so That there is “one” latest Theory? Or is too much going on in different directions?
    just asking. idk. I am just now starting to study ID & Learning Theory. so much to learn.

  2. Richard Williams September 22, 2010

    In your comment you asked the question, " So if we indeed take in ‘garbage’ that is what we will store and retrieve – can we then consider that learning has indeed taken place."

    Yes, learning has taken place. Although the learning may not have been the out come we intended to have occur, learning has taken place. I design instruction, we have to be careful to keep the "garbage" (or unintended learning) to a minimum so that what is being learned is directed toward the goal of the instruction. Just a thought.

  3. Pennyfree December 27, 2009

    Once again the blog information points to the fact that we should not cater to just one of the _isms, neither should we disregard either _ism, but we need to take the best of each and use them for the educational purposes of our learners.~~Penny

Karl Kapp
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