A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about the pre-course tasks for @SotonEd PGCE trainee teachers, one of which requires them to write 750 words summarising, and critically comparing, the work of Piaget and Vygotsky, and then a further 500 words relating these theories to what they observe in school.
I had responses from several directions. My blog has always been about trying to clarify my own thinking about teaching, learning, education research, and teacher training, so it’s really helpful to have questions to consider.
My response to @nastyoldmrpike is that, quite possibly knowing all of this wouldn’t make him a better teacher because, unlike my trainees, he probably already understands – either intuitively or explicitly – that students don’t all learn the same things from a particular bit of teaching. I go back to my original justification that my trainees often don’t appreciate this at the start of their training. Ironically, the choice is then to allow them to learn from their own experience – the constructivist teaching approach – or to provide more guidance.
I have two points to make in response to @suzyg001. Firstly, I could have taken a different tack with my list of ideas related to constructivist cognitive psychology but for me the post was part of an unfinished conversation so I wanted to pick up on some of the ideas about teaching and learning that form a backdrop to this. And secondly, whilst I appreciate that Dan Willingham occupies a position that is justified more by his level of engagement with education (in comparison to the majority of cognitive scientists) than by his representation of that field, and by the convenient alignment of his work with the inclinations of the traditionalist paradigm within education, I do inevitably view things through the filter of my own experience – how about that? – and the whole working memory / cognitive load theory does fit with my experience of teaching. I can see that there is a more complex picture but as someone who had to Google to check the meaning of ‘memeplex’ I have to work at a level with practical implications for my own teaching, and that of my trainees. I think that’s the key to understanding “where this is coming from”.