Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism! Oh, my!

I was going to write about Cresswell’s writings this evening, but then I read chapter 2 of educational technology and I have too many comments swirling to not comment…

First thing too talk about is the 5 principles from constructivism…Most of the points are not possible without true facilitation of learning, and probably not without educational technology. How does a teacher get a student (or even harder a group of students) interested in the reasons for Canadian Confederation from a text book? The text book can’t come close tany of the three points of the first principle.

I laughed out loud when I read the fourth principle (well maybe chuckled to myself a little bit). As jurisdictions embed the use of high stakes testing, curriculum expectations become more and more rigid. As expectations harden opportunity for diversity in the classroom dissappear. So the content of each class is rigid, with almost every class learning the same material the same way…and as educators we are supposed to encourage ownership in learning? Working with a slightly behind student in math this year I asked him “Why are you doing this question this way?” and he answered “Becuase I have to.” There was no meta cognitive awareness on his part. He was just trying to pass the class.

But with this focus of constructivism (in Ontario anyway it is the VERY big thing) I was quite surprised to see the liberal helping of behaviourism that is still being used as primary teaching strategies. All teachers in primary grades in Ontario are (essentially) expected to follow Fountas and Pinnell for literacy teaching. A big part (some say THE PART)of this methodology is guided reading. When I read the description of Direct Instruction on pg 22, all I could think of was guided reading (except guided reading does not have a ed. tech component). The whole plan that Fountas and Pinnell espouse matches the constructivist prescriptions, but why is the key component apparently belonging to a different educational philosophy?

As a last note I was surprised by how much I found that I had used behaviorist strategies. Is this becuase I have primarily worked with students that didn’t want to be responsible for their own learning? Or because they were so far behind I decided by myself I was going to take them to where they needed to be? Or something else that I have not thought of?

Please discuss amongst yourselves… (but let me know what you come up with)


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