EDU 6120 – Week 9 “Authentic Application”

We teach a subject, not to produce little living libraries from that subject, but rather to get a student to think mathematically for himself, to consider matters as a historian does, to take part in the process of knowledge-getting. Knowledge is a process, not a product. –Jerome Bruner, the Process of Education (1960)

I fully agree with Bruner’s ideology, and find myself applying it to the special needs environment. The end result of a student reading a sentence well is an excellent goal for many children with learning disabilities, but what will really help them is what they learn along the way, so they can apply the techniques to other tasks. In a way we are teaching the children “how” to learn because some of the students don’t obtain knowledge in the same manner as other children, so in their cases it is the process that enables them to work toward their own independent learning. Cheney’s approach of knowledge as a product is comparable to the old adage, “Give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he eats for a lifetime.” There can be a uniting of rationale where the “how” and “what” can be taught, which is reinforced by Ellis in the excerpt “School Curriculum” by stating, “it is important to keep in mind that Bruner never claimed that content was trivial. The false dichotomy between process and content need not exist” (p. 4). If I was to choose between the two I would emphasize the “how” because then the student can “eat” for a lifetime with reasoning and analysis driving him toward a goal of lifelong learning, and hopefully never satiating their hunger for questioning the “what.”

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This entry was posted in L1: Learner centered, L2: Classroom/school centered, P1: Informed by professional responsibilities and policies, P2: Enhanced by reflective, collaborative, professional growth-centered practice, S1 - Content driven, S2 - Aligned with curriculum standards and outcomes, S3: Integrated across content areas, T2: Intentionally planned, T3: Influenced by multiple instructional strategies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to EDU 6120 – Week 9 “Authentic Application”

  1. Aaron Claar says:

    I would agree with Ellis, also. If either of the two concepts is overly emphasized, I don’t think the learning experience is maximized. I would also lean toward Bruner’s point of view because process is important, but we need to give students a base knowledge so they have something to work with. Like everything in life, balance, balance, balance.

  2. slukej says:

    James,
    We have a unique teaching opportunity with each of our student with special needs. I agree that independence is an important goal for our students. Gladly we focus on task analysis to complete all of the steps in the process (and reach a product). The biggest challenge may be teaching the student to generalize — apply the similar process to a new situation.

    I have a vivid set of memories regarding Bruner’s quote about teaching a student to think mathematically for himself”. When shopping in a store, I would repeatedly ask my father if the item on sale is a good deal. He, the teacher that he is, turned the question back to me, to figure it out mathematically. Whether I do the math in my head or use a paper and pencil, I know the steps to calculating the problem.

    From teaching students about money to helping them create a budget. These are important skills for independence. Also, I appreciate that you focused on teaching students “how” so they can get to “what” they need.

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