Friday, February 11, 2005

Deconstructing edubabble

Anyone going through ed school is enveloped in a thick fog of nebulous words and phrases that cause a thinking person great discomfort. It is not always easy to put one's finger on the exact nature of this discomfort.

I think Prof. Plum hit the nail on the head when he said:

1. The core words in the argot of Edland (Edubabble), by which Edlanders conduct business (of transforming their words into countless materials, programs, and activities), are meaningless. They have no empirical referent; you look but nothing is there.

That's it! There is no empirical referent.

One thing one hears incessantly in ed school is that students "construct their own knowledge." This phrase is used by constructivists to justify non-instruction -- the demotion of the teacher from sage on the stage to guide on the side, as the constructivist slogan has it.

What exactly does constructing one's own knowledge mean? Do students construct knowledge ex nihilo? If not, what is the external input? If the input includes books, then how does that differ from explicit instruction given by a knowledgeable teacher?

If ed schools want to become relevant, a first step would have to be the rejection of fuzzy verbiage and the adoption of clear thinking.

But clear, critical thinking is anathema to ed schools as Prof. Plum points out:

2. Words that DO have objective meaning--that is, something IS there that two or more observers can see and agree upon--are shunned in Edland.

Systematic instruction.

Explicit instruction.

Distributed practice.

Skill elements.

Integration of elements into routines.


Error correction.

Forms of knowledge (e.g., concepts and rules are defined by their logical structure).

Communication formats (routine sequences for communicating/teaching concepts, rules, and strategies).

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