How People Learn

Introduction:  From Speculation to Science
“You Say Pōtātō, I Say Pōtătō” or the Need for Common Language/Understanding

Ramifications for teachers on the concept of learning for understanding include changing mental models they hold for how children learn.  I particularly liked the Fish Is Fish analogy.  By the time children begin school, they are not “blank slates” on which we can begin to write new knowledge.  Their prior experiences will serve to help or hinder the learning process.  We can’t solely rely on what children bring to the table, if you will, and assume prior knowledge will suffice in building background knowledge.  Making new connections to new learning is more about making sure their thinking is correct.  Having children make their thinking visible or transparent is essential as a starting point of where the child is, in terms of misconceptions they may have.  Only then is the teacher in a position to help her students connect to, clarify and understand the “big idea.” So under the constructivist theory of learning, it is important for the teacher to facilitate new learning and not rely on students to come to their own conclusions.  This may lead to children making false assumptions and interpretations.  The ramifications for teachers is to be able to learn and apply content and pedagogy that enables them to apply theory and practice in the classroom that leads to transfer of learning across the curriculum.