Our conversation in the first class, strangely heated (but stimulating!) considering that we really don't know each other that well, involved the difference between learning and knowledge. It seemed we had some trouble agreeing on the definitions of the terms themselves, with some feeling that learning was more likely to be rote memorization and knowledge was a deeper ownership.
What do I believe so far? I think rote memorization occurs in more situations than we realize. Sometimes we learn something just long enough for its utility, i.e. tests, directions, names of people, recipes. If it's important, we may keep the information longer but not necessarily, and may need to go back and retrieve it, only to lose it again. If we're intrigued by it, made connections to it, argued it, loved it, hated it, experienced it, we're apt to keep it longer. Perhaps we'll keep it forever because we take it out, look at it and place it in a special location so it can be found easily. Sometimes that knowledge, or learning (whatever term is suitable), will be expanded and strengthened, building upon core principles, blended with prior knowledge, and fleshed out into action.
What do I believe now, at the beginning of this class? I have always leaned to the constructivist theories as described on the website "Concept to Classroom." While I understand the idea of teachers as "experts," I feel that students understand less if they listen passively rather than become actively involved in their educational experiences. I believe that:
- some of our fallback strategies with children involve what we learned from our own teachers when we were in grade school or the parenting techniques we observed in our own families.
- people, not just students, are often bored with lectures. This isn't new because of constant stimulation from TV or video games. Our minds are busy all the time and not always the eager sponges lecturers would like to believe. As teachers, sometimes we need to be the "sage on the stage." Other times, we need to listen, watch, question. An active dialogue will tell an educator more about what a student knows and believes than telling students what they need to know.
- people learn by watching, doing, reading, listening and in any combination at different points. They remember because it made a difference when they learned it.