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Deborah Hazen's picture

Students trained to get things right

This is a major statement! Students are trained to get things right.

What are the implications for generative dialogue in a pluralistic society if each speaker is focused on being right.

How do we go from Jill's Kindergarten class in which she presses students to defend their summaries with reflection on their observations and fine tune their thinking through conversation to older students who just want to get the right answer? I don't think we can hang this one on grading and assesment schemes (I used to but I've changed my story!).

I think that I might like to explore the developmental stages of learning as kids move from early school to middle school and beyond. I wonder if there is something about the maturation process and the curriculum we present at different developmental levels that supports a move from learning as playing with stories to learning being an acquisition of the right stories. For instance, in general nine year olds love factual explanations, ten year olds get excited about memorizing facts, and eleven year olds while they are beginning to get comfortable with abstract reasoning prefer new work and concepts to going over and fine tuning previous work. And all along the way these kids are becoming more socially insecure and unwilling to lose face in front of their peers.

So, when they want me to tell them the answer or pore over books full of factoids is this developmentally appropriate and do my invitations to engage in an emergence based classroom simply frustrate them to no end. Would it be far better to recognize and play to their development strength (if my story is a good story) and use the upper elementary years as a time for them to build the background knowledge that will come in handy when they move into high school or college and are brain ready for the emergence approach? This has never been my story before...and it may very well change before the end of today. But right now, it feels right to sit with this story.


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