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Re: [xmca] Direct Instruction: observations at Djarragun college, Cape York, Australia

Hi all,

I was reading over one of my draft thesis chapters yesterday and the
following quote from Thinking and Speech suddenly took on new relevance
when I thought about it in relation to this thread. Although Vygotsky's
'direct instruction' is obviously not talking about the DI program, the
sentiment still applies:

… [D]irect instruction in concepts is impossible. It is pedagogically
fruitless. The teacher who attempts to use this approach achieves nothing
but a mindless learning of words, an empty verbalism that simulates or
imitates the presence of concepts in the child. Under these conditions, the
child learns not the concept but the word, and this word is taken over by
the child through memory rather than thought. Such knowledge turns out to
be inadequate in any meaningful application. This mode of instruction is
the basic defect of the purely scholastic verbal modes of teaching which
have been universally condemned. It substitutes the learning of dead and
empty verbal schemes for the mastery of living knowledge.  (Vygotsky, 1987,
p. 170)

By the way Bill, is this one of the Indigenous Literacy programs that has
just had its funding cut in this week's Federal Budget? What happens now?
If there's no longer funding for teaching 'dead and empty verbal schemes',
what will be required to provide the type of education that aims for
'mastery of living knowledge'?


On 10 May 2012 19:02, Bill Kerr <billkerr@gmail.com> wrote:

> On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 8:26 AM, Huw Lloyd <huw.softdesigns@gmail.com
> >wrote:
> > As I understand it view points research (Papert, Kay and others) are or
> > were involved in ways to scale teaching approaches (presumably
> > constructionist teaching approaches).
> >
> > Yes and that has continued with the one laptop per child project (OLPC)
> as
> well. But Alan Kay has pointed out
> (a) most teachers don't understand the ideas behind logo (or etoys) deeply
> enough
> *Q: What have you found to be the greatest obstacle in your work?*
> A: I think the most difficult part is helping the helpers. Logo was a great
> idea and it failed. It didn't fail because computers couldn't do Logo, and
> it didn't fail because Logo software was bad. It failed because the second
> and third waves of teachers were not interested in it as a new thing, and
> virtually none of them understood anything about mathematics or science.
> It's very hard to teach Logo well if you don't know math. ...
> http://www.squeakland.org/resources/articles/article.jsp?id=1004
> (b)  no one has yet developed a computer user interface that  could teach
> children to read in their native language
> BUT, when Nicholas (Negroponte) started up the OLPC project my heart sank,
> even as I supported it ... because if it's tough to get good mentors in the
> USA then it's really tough out in the Third World ... no user interace
> today can find out who its user is, what its user knows, what it can do ...
> it can't find out what level of reading the user can do and help find out
> the next level of reading
> There is common sense in the world concept ... so we make a world populated
> with objects ... but they didn't interfere with the user strongly
> That isn't enough ... pure discovery learning took us 100,000 years to get
> to science ... so you need learning that is facilitated ... and if you
> can't make thousands of good teachers in a year then you have to have an
> interactive user interface to save yourself
> This dream of having a UI to facilitate is as old as AI ... it is AI ... if
> we had this we could make up for no teachers and bad teachers (but we still
> need good teachers) ... so when the OLPC project started I thought OMG, we
> are lacking the one piece of the technology ... if we could just ship that
> machine with a program that could teach children to read in their native
> language ... that would be the killer app and we wouldn't have to worry
> about anything else for a number of years ... but that technology doesn't
> exist ... it is that gap which has to be bridged in order to fulfil the
> educational goals that the dynabook has ... you have to have a way to get
> around the adults in the system that make educational reform difficult
> http://billkerr2.blogspot.com.au/2008/12/alan-kay-after-40-years-dynabook-is-not.html
> It is considerations such as these that has caused me to look beyond the
> OLPC to a method that would work with the most disadvantaged group in
> Australia.
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Helen Grimmett
PhD Student, Teaching Associate
Faculty of Education
Monash University, Peninsula Campus
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