A Learners’ View (ALV) Is Of Choices On The Shortest And Fastest Path To Learning, The Oxygen Of Social Life.
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DISCUSSIONS OF A LEARNERS’ VIEW (ALV) among educators encounters two types of charges: (1) of irreverence and (2) of violations of secular doctrines widely held by educators and their supporters. For example, those who use a grand philosophical view of education as a real and tangible universal and harmonious good disagree with the relevance of applying experimental behavioral science study findings in schools and with learners. In general, people who use such views arguably maintain their skepticism of ALV irrespective of evidence and demonstrations. They appear, from a learners’ view, to choose to treat their view of education (an abstraction, a social construct) as if it exists as a real and tangible undifferentiated whole object independent from social processes and superior to other views.
Describing ALV has yielded responses that may be characterized as being accused of committing secular blasphemy against a reified “You can’t believe or say that. Not here. It’s not our way. You have to go along to go along, if you want to get along and stay here.” “No, I won’t put my Whole Language Reading Program in an experiment against that program. I already know I have the best program for everyone.” “If you know those people, then we don’t want to hear anything you say. Those people offend me and now so does anything you say.” “Don’t say that here. If what you say is true, and my principal knows it too, then I’m in trouble and may loose my teaching position (scholarship, grade, etc.).” “My church believes differently, so I can’t accept what you say.” These sentiments have continued at least since the 1970s.
Educators and their supporters skeptical of ALV appear to make choices based on two doctrines: (1) learning is a meaningful process and (2) schooling is to instill truth (perhaps the least harsh phrase used to describe their purpose for schooling). Educators adopt whatever current vocabulary they choose from a plethora of professional development (used to be called in service) efforts they encounter. This adoption of disguises their view without changing their practices.
Doctrines in this sense reflect ways educators conduct the business of schooling. The use of doctrines in schools changes over time and in cycles that correspond with national political interests, the offering of research reports, and the publication of material by charismatic “thought leaders.”
As a prosperous internationally recognized educator from a top tier university said off the record: Educators choose activities and programs that fit whatever belief they hold. Then, they adapt the new vocabulary to fit their ongoing belief, aspirations, and practices. The task of those trying to change education is to give them words they accept and then hold them to technical, not their version, of meanings of those words.
As an aggregate, educators adjust their vocabulary every five to seven years as fads in education cycle through society. These cycles are difficult to see without tracing the associations of vocabulary with practices. Exhibit halls of education conferences are a good place to gather material on the latest fad to compare vocabulary of educators over time in curriculum libraries and central administration memos. One senior state education officer, who shall remain anonymous, off the record called these exhibits carnivals.
Commercial education publishers and their writers ride these cycles. That means, publishers release material with the new educational vocabulary that educators will likely adopt. At the same time, educators generate programs that capture the interest of publishers in hopes that distribution of these material fit beliefs held by masses of school employees.
Glimpses of a view sympathetic to ALV occur among social constructivist leaning educators and their publications.
The doctrine of education as a meaningful process holds that people learn something when what they learn means something to them. The vocabulary of this belief includes terms such as age appropriate, authentic, caring, cognitive linguistic mapping, cooperation, collaboration, disabilities, empathy, experience, gifted, individual differences, in their own way, love, readiness, and the uniqueness of the individual, whole language, you have to understand their community. Each term represents a noble and useful set of practices when used as originally defined and practiced. They appear to mislead educators into picking-and-using clusters of these words that create word salads and result in less learning occurring from lessons than is technically possible.
This vocabulary has been used to explain why, for example: The person with severe mental disabilities cannot learn to tell time, because time doesn’t mean anything to them. People from low income families cannot learn to read, because they don’t have experiences that match the symbols or content of books available to them. We need preschool, because children are not ready to learn in school.
ALV contrasts with the doctrine of meaningfulness. ALV features the empirical probabilities of choices (patterns, routines) learners make while learning. This may be characterized as mechanical or instrumental doctrines in education.
From a learners’ view, people have taught adolescents with severe mental (developmental) disabilities to tell time in five minute intervals in the twenty minute sessions; three to five year old children from low income families to add, subtract, multiply, and divide, speak standard English, read standard English, basic principles of science, all in 120 minutes of instruction over six weeks in a barn and an abandoned house without standard school equipment. Such demonstrations have occurred with over a million students in public schools and sheltered workshops.
Science and technology do not include the word or construct of truth in their lexicons. The word truth used in education is a holdover of vocabulary from before the availability of a technical-scientific literacy for educators (TSLE) that gives priority to accuracy and precision in examining and describing the content learned. Truth in this sense emphasizes that fact must correspond with a belief. Some educators substitute the word theory for faith.
Implications for Research
The existence of these patterns in professional practice and literature remain to be tested for validity through experimental studies in order to identify the extent to which they accelerate, increase, and deepen learning (AID) over results from a learners’ view.
- A Learners’ View (ALV) of Learning Abstract
- Argot Used by Educators
- Technical-Scientific Literacy of Educators (TSLE)
- Word Salad