Nice List: Seven misconceptions about how students learn

March 19, 2012 at 8:01 am 3 comments

I would have written the first one a bit different for a CS Ed audience.  There’s a big push in CS Ed to make sure students learn the “right” basic facts so that they don’t have to “unlearn” bad habits later.  Absolutely, that’s a real risk.  But that doesn’t mean that we can teach the basic facts first.  Context comes first — students have to know why they’re learning something in order to get deep learning.

Here are seven of the biggest myths about learning that, unfortunately, guide the way that many schools are organized in this era of standardized test-based public school reform.

Basic Facts Come Before Deep Learning

This one translates roughly as, “Students must do the boring stuff before they can do the interesting stuff.” Or, “Students must memorize before they can be allowed to think.” In truth, students are most likely to achieve long-term mastery of basic facts in the context of engaging, student-directed learning.

via Seven misconceptions about how students learn – The Answer Sheet – The Washington Post.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. gfrblxt  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:35 am

    This is one of the many reasons I am envious of my colleagues in private school settings. They have more flexibility in their curriculum than public schools, and so (in theory, if not always in principle) can step back, reflect on best practices, and actually implement them if they choose to. We often get so trapped in “teaching to the test” that we forget why we’re doing what we do.

  • 2. Jason Orendorff (@jorendorff)  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:05 am

    There’s a big push in CS Ed to make sure students learn the “right” basic facts so that they don’t have to “unlearn” bad habits later. Absolutely, that’s a real risk.

    Is it? What was your first programming language? Mine was C64 BASIC. At school they taught kids to hack lo-res graphics on Apple IIs, also in basic. It was awesome.

    I think the way Strauss interpreted the first point is bang on for CS Ed.

  • 3. gasstationwithoutpumps  |  March 19, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I learned first in Fortran, then assembly language. I had plenty of unlearning to do.

    Every other STEM field counts on students doing a fair amount of unlearning as simplified models get replaced by more sophisticated ones (Newtonian physics => relativity => quantum mechanics), (integers => rational numbers => real numbers => complex numbers), …

    I think that the problem for CS education is finding appropriate simplified models that are adequate for many purposes if you stop with them, rather than worrying about starting everyone with the most complex ones.


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