You Can’t Assume Anything

This cartoon was pretty funny in light of my explorations into constructivism and connectivism last week. The mother decides to replace pre-made foods with foods that must be prepared, and then facepalms when her children don’t have the slightest clue what to do with the new products.

One would think she would gently encourage them to read the directions, but that appears to have been too challenging for her.

I think there is this misconception that constructivism works much the same way, that we expect a learner to look at a similar, yet different situation and figure out on their own how to cope with it without any teacher interference. This simply isn’t true. In discovery learning, I find that students will take whatever problem solving skills they have learned and attempt to apply it to the new situation to determine what they need to do. If the student does not have the requisite problem solving skills, then I like to explore with the student, modeling problem solving techniques while engaging that ever-powerful prior knowledge.

I will admit, though, that if I think a child has a sufficient background to tackle a problem on their own, then I will do what the mother failed to do here: tell the child to read the directions. If they’re still stumped at that point, then I’ll step in and help.

There are some concepts that cannot be taught this way, and that’s okay. But there are concepts that can be taught this way, and are almost always more interesting to learn this way because it allows for the possibility for a new and acceptable method for doing something to be discovered.

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