One of my favourite classes at the Faculty of Education dealt with educational learning theory. I’m not sure exactly why I was hooked but I was. Thorndike, Watson, Pavlov, Skinner, Dewey, Bruner all come to mind. I’m sure that if I thought harder, I could come up with more names.
As I look back now, I’m struck by two things. First of all, we didn’t think about the theories by their title, we thought about them by an individual’s name. I remember Pavlov and dogs but not classical conditioning unless I really think about it. The other thing, and I think this is why I was really interested in this, was the realization that teaching was an art and not a science. If all these smart people worked on learning theories and couldn’t come to a single conclusion, then there’s no way that you could bottle an answer or plug it in and have perfect results everywhere.
I think that, today, it’s why I just want to start asking questions when I hear the statement “We’re a 1:1 school”, “We’re an iPad school”, “We’re a Windows school”, … I immediately harken back to the wise post by Sophia Mavridi “We need pedagogy, not just cool tools.” How do you get a grip on the pedagogy? How about the theories of learning? What have we learned since Skinner?
Yesterday, one of Canada’s true edtech gems and self-proclaimed “most prominent cyber-citizen of Moncton”, Stephen Downes gave us a wonderful post in his Half an Hour blog. “Theories Related to Connectivism“. Here, he offers his own summary of:
- Graph Theory
These thoughtful summaries should be part of the conversation when it includes “We’re an ######## school”.
At Faculties of Education, these are worthy of deep research and analysis – particularly before and after a practice teaching session. During planning sessions at a school district, where do the components of each fit? Can you be all-in on a particular one? Are there real leaders available for dialogue in Ontario? When topics are developed for professional discourse, do you give thought to these? As you address expectations, is there a theory that can inform instruction?
Stephen offers one of those bookmarkworthy posts. Do so now so that you don’t lose track of it.