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RE: [xmca] The Grip of "Direct Instruction"

Thanks for sharing that anecdote.
Unfortunately there is a mirror image in reform teaching to the
dysfunctional portrait you presented of direct instruction of procedures
disconnected from meaning-making: engagement in activity with no vision
on the teacher's part of what or how learning is to be supported. I
think there is good evidence that the Math Wars in the US initiated not
from ideological resistance (that came later), but from true horror
stories of kids in dysfunctional reform classrooms, some of them getting
to college unprepared as learners (getting into college is not always a
sign of a successful K-12 learning experience). As a community, I don't
think we've done a good job of articulating what it is that makes
activity-based learning environments effective.
This was the topic of my AERA paper in May, "The Incoherence of
Contemporary Pedagogical Reform," which I attach in case anyone is
interested. (The meat of the paper starts about half way through at the
section titled "Theoretical Analysis.") 

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-bounces@weber.ucsd.edu]
On Behalf Of mike cole
Sent: Saturday, August 14, 2010 2:39 PM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture,Activity
Subject: [xmca] The Grip of "Direct Instruction"

Yesterday I presented a longish paper at the American Psych Association
meetings here in San Diego.
A lot of it was about what here I would refer to as "activity-based"
curriculum projects -- their virtues, problems, and apparent inability
gain traction against recitation scrips and direct instruction. A major
general finding was that when implemented as designers intend, such
work, but they tend quickly to be undermined by teachers who strongly
believe that direct instruction on elements not under control of a
meaningful whole is THE only way to be effective.

A person from Canada posed a question after prefacing her remarks by
she agreed with all I said, and thank you, etc. She began by saying that
Canada such approaches had gained a lot of
traction in k-12 education, but they were causing a problem at the
university level. She phrased the problem roughly as follows: "We get a
of students who are great at collaborative learning, but it appears to
them of their attention spans. And, doesn't a subject like calculus
direct instruction?"

These comments/questions knocked me over. I have long disliked the
of short attention span in school kids, which appears to masquerade far
often as a proxy for "the kids will not sit still and control themselves
doing stuff they do not understand and do not understand why they should
to understand."
But I never expected that the the charge of "reduced attention spans"
be attributed to college students (who have succeeded in getting in to
college, after all) with the causal factor inducing this "deficit" being
that their former (successful) modes of learning engendered by
activity-centered instruction). Moreover, I was surprised that anyone
believes that calculus can be taught by "direct instruction" with no
made to subordinate procedural knowledge to knowledge of the potential
motives for learning.

I think I was experiencing exactly the challenges confronting the many
really interesting and successful innovators in education (we might
here with Dewey, but I have in mind modern scholars) who want to make
education a meaningful process to students but who find that their
are rapidly deconstructed once they leave the home ground.

Anyone else have observations of this kind?

Two things struck me
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