Domains of learning: Bloom and Warfield

The shortcomings of education-as-usual prompt the question: What is education for? When this topic comes up, listen for mental models. Sometimes, explicitly or not, commentators and critics will describe a version of Bloom's taxonomy: learning as cognitive, affective, and psychomotor -- learning, that is, for the head, heart, and hands. Last year, David Brooks reached [...]

Donella Meadows on teaching and learning

Systems+sustainability pioneer Donella Meadows had an unusual ability to connect with students, audiences, and workshop participants. One senses this connectivity in her audio and video recordings. Thanks to the work of the Vermont-based Donella Meadows Institute, such legacy recordings and materials are now more accessible. One audio file I found in the Institute archives is [...]

"[S]cience is fundamentally a social enterprise," write the authors of the U.S. National Research Council 2011 Framework for K-12 Science Education. As I described last week, the framework is the basis for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and both are bolstered with a good measure of systems thinking  -- including this type of reflection [...]

A call for system thinking in K-12 schools

The U.S. K-12 Next Generation Science Standards were published in April this year, with the goal of "provid[ing] all students an internationally benchmarked science education." As described in the FAQ, the standards were developed separately from the more frequently discussed Common Core State Standards, and they are based on the National Research Council's (NRC) 2011 [...]

Zone of proximal unlearning

Reading the 1999 U.S. National Research Council (NRC) report, "How People Learn: Bridging Research and Practice," I couldn't help but recall that (widely attributed) Twainism: It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. The first of the NRC's three key findings: Students [...]

Design principles: Ken Robinson

Educational theorist Ken Robinson, whose 2006 TED talk has garnered over 16 million views, takes a more conversational approach at the 2012 Future of Learning Conference, where he concludes with a synthesis of design principles (shortened here without ellipses): There are some principles that we might observe here. The first is that education will only [...]

Neil Postman: Critical thinking in education

"Let us suppose," wrote Neil Postman in his final (1999) book, Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future, "as Jefferson did, and much later John Dewey, ... that the best way for citizens to protect their liberty is for them to be encouraged to be skeptical." How would [...]

Ackoff: Confusing learning with teaching

"The objective of education is learning, not teaching," emphasized management science pioneer Russell Ackoff in a 2008 book with Sudbury Valley School cofounder Daniel Greenberg, Turning Learning Right Side Up: Putting Education Back on Track. Published a year before Ackoff passed, the book complies their pithy email exchanges on educational reform. From Ackoff's opening section [...]

Commentary on higher education

“Thirty years from now the big university campuses will be relics," declared management guru Peter Drucker in a 1997 Forbes article. Here's some more recent commentary. "How Disruptive Innovation Can Deliver Quality and Affordability to Postsecondary Education," a report by Clayton Christensen and colleagues, partnering with the Center for American Progress (pdf): Disruption hasn’t historically been [...]

Data on U.S. education

There has been a lot of recent commentary on the state of U.S. education. I'm going to pull some excerpts, starting with some data points: From 2000 to 2008, the percentage of undergraduates enrolled in at least one distance education class expanded from 8 percent to 20 percent.¹ Nearly thirty percent of higher education students [...]

John Seely Brown: Global one-room schoolhouse

John Seely Brown presents a fascinating stream of ideas in this compressed, animated version of a talk he gave at the 2012 DML Conference, posted by the Digital Media and Learning Hub. Brown is former director of Xerox PARC and co-author most recently of A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World [...]

Education for the head, hands, and heart

What comes to mind when you hear the phrase "head, hands, and heart"? Waldorf-style teaching programs? Maybe the sign of the cross? How about a taxonomy of learning objectives -- cognitive, psychomotor, and affective -- whose development by educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom traces back to 1956? This latter was new to me, a source I discovered [...]

Key competencies in sustainability

What are the "complexes of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable successful task performance and problem solving with respect to real-world sustainability problems, challenges, and opportunities"? These "complexes of knowledge, skills, and attitudes" are what Arnim Wiek, Lauren Withycombe, and Charles Redman of Arizona State University's School of Sustainability call, in a 2011 paper, "Key [...]

Etienne Wenger on education

With thoughts turning to education, a few notes from the last chapter of Etienne Wenger’s 1998 book, Communities of Practice: Education, in its deepest sense and at whatever age it takes place, concerns the opening of identities -- exploring new ways of being that lie beyond our current state. ... To the extent that knowledge [...]

Jerry Michalski: Education as embracing agency

"I no longer believe that there is teaching," says pattern finder and technology advisor Jerry Michalski. "There is no teaching; there is just learning." In a whirlwind (and "blunt") talk at the Rebuild21 conference, Jerry covers a range of alternative educational theory and practice -- from John Taylor Gatto, to unschooling and deschooling -- as [...]