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.
Please share your thoughts here. I’d enjoy reading them.