Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education/Knowing/Reasoning
|“||Believe nothing merely because you have been told it. Do not believe what your teacher tells you merely out of respect for the teacher. But whatsoever, after due examination and analysis, you find to be kind, conducive to the good, the benefit, the welfare of all beings -- that doctrine believe and cling to, and take it as your guide.||”|
|“||Learning is finding out what you already know, Doing is demonstrating that you know it, Teaching is reminding others that they know it as well as you do. We are all learners, doers, and teachers.||”|
—Richard David Bach
The "zombie" look is a blank stare that a teacher gets when he or she has lost the majority of their class, at this point they are no longer learning. The average attention span of a student in a classroom has proven to be about fifteen to twenty minutes. What would you say if I told you that some of your students wouldn’t make it past the first five minutes of a lecture? If the students aren’t listening then they are not learning. The question is not how to make students listen and learn but how to embrace their learning abilities. A person’s ability to learn stems from what type of reasoning they gain knowledge from. Applied and Abstract reasoning are two completely different forms of learning and in order for us, as educators, to reach out to students we must first find out a way to engage each and every one of them. We must not only engage our students but do so in a matter that makes sense to them at their own personal level. If we do not allow everyone to learn in their own way than the fifteen minutes you spent lecturing will throw many students off, possibly be detrimental to their understanding and show in their grades. So before you classify a student as learning disabled try to think of a way for them to get to you not a way for you to get to them.
Aristotle one said “Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember. Involve me, I understand”. This quote explains how some individuals learn, through applied reasoning. There is nothing wrong with someone who does not understand material given through a lecture or can not figure out how to assemble something by being told once. Sometimes, no matter how easy a task, applied learners will fail to comprehend the material until they are literally shown how to do it. These learners are classified as the creative ones or the hands-on learners. Stick an applied learner in a lecture hall they walk out confused, show him or her a picture or diagram they walk out understanding. This type of learner tends to trail behind due to the lack of teaching methods used in everyday classrooms that include such learners. But despite their lack of comprehension in a lecture environment, applied reasoning can be extremely helpful in and outside of a classroom.
Students need to be provided hands on activities, group work, and guided questioning. In the classroom these students will be accomplishing a real world goal; like, building something, testing hypothesis, or simply using counting blocks (Munden). With applied learners it is always important to remember that the demonstration of the material is critical to their understanding of the information. Lesson plans should include handouts, worksheets, videos, and posters to help applied learners apply and visualize the information. The majority of people learn best by actively working with new concepts and ideas, solving problems, asking and answering questions, discussing, debating, brainstorming, researching and explaining. So, by encouraging the applied learners to engage in lecture and class discussions you will help them to evolve into well rounded students who can learn in any situation.
No single individual is born with a particular “way” or learning or comprehending information, it is more so taught over time. By the time students reach college, they have compensated for how they comprehend things and for the most part will understand when taught hands on or by lecture. The college life, unlike grade school demands that you understand and comprehend in any setting. Abstract learners have a “one up” in this manner because college professors find that the easiest method to relay lots of information in a small amount of time is by lecturing. According to about.com, "abstract reasoning ability is important because it enables students to apply what they learn in complex ways. Analogical or abstract reasoning is an important cognitive skill involved in abstract mental processes such as creating metaphors, constructing explanations, and solving complex problems" (Goswami, 2007, p. 437–470).These learners may find it hard to perform more creative tasks that involve the senses or other activities such as coloring and anything artistic.
Abstract reasoning tasks involve skills such as:
- Forming theories about the nature of objects, ideas, processes, and problem solving
- Understanding subjects on a complex level through complex analysis and evaluation
- Ability to apply knowledge in problem-solving using theory, metaphor, or complex analogy. (about.com)
"One of the most fascinating and mysterious properties of the brain is its capacity to learn, or its ability to change in response to experience and to retain that knowledge throughout an organism’s lifetime." (2003,under how do we learn and remember)It is extremely important to young learners to feel encouraged about their intelligence. By not engaging all kinds of learning processes teachers make whoever they are not reaching feel less intelligent. Discouraged students may stop trying or lash out as a way to show inner struggles. How an individual in taught and how well they learn can be detrimental to their future success in and outside of school. "Cooperative learning and problem-based learning are two topics that school divisions are now spending considerable money and professional development time."(Schultz, 2007, p2.PBL) If teachers learn how to involve all students in their classrooms it will make learning more enjoyable for everyone. We, as educators are setting students up for future troubles and disappointment if we do not move away from traditional teaching methods. Educators cannot carry on producing real-world disabled students by having all work done independently and with unambiguous and fixed directions. Many teachers now dispute that it is crucial to engage students with "real world" problems that they must unravel in collaboration with others. (Schultz, 2007, P2.PBL)
Okay, let’s break this down a little further. Now that you know all of the information about abstract and applied learners you may be asking yourself how exactly do you involve both in classroom functions. There is a simple answer to this question and that is by combining techniques. Instead of just lecturing provide pictures and charts that illustrate what you are talking about. Using a short lecture followed by a hands on activity also encourages both types of reasoning and can also reiterate new materials to all students allowing them to not only learn temporarily but learn for life. "Cooperative learning is a successful teaching strategy in which small teams, each with students of different levels of ability, use a variety of learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject."
Research has shown that cooperative learning techniques:
- Promote student learning and academic achievement
- Increase student retention
- Enhance student satisfaction with their learning experience
- Help students develop skills in oral communication
- Develop students' social skills
- Promote student self-esteem
- Help to promote positive race relations 
Both applied and abstract learners can benefit from using dialogue in the classroom. “Involving students in discussion fosters retention of information, application of knowledge to new situations, and development of higher order thinking skills” (Gardiner,1998). By having your students engage in dialogue you are allowing them to have a better understanding of the material being covered. You can still have a lecture, which the abstract learners benefit most from. But, then you can have the entire class, as a whole or in individual groups, have a discussion about the topic just lectured on. Applied learners will benefit from this because they learn best from being involved. Not only will you be teaching in a way that every student will learn from, but also you are engaging the students in a way that will help them have a deeper understanding of the material. By using dialogue in the classroom, your students will be better prepared for life after school because they will have learned how to express their thoughts and be respectful listeners.
We, As teachers,can only imagine what the future lives of the children we teach will be like. It is our responsibility to not only be encouraging but to provide for the knowledge that will be carried with them for the rest of their lives. Education is not a thing that should be forgotten it is something that should be built upon; we as educators provide the building blocks for the rest of the students lives. So when making lesson plans remember that your goal is not to make students learn but to help students to learn for life. This educating can only be executed properly if it pertains to every type of learner whether they use abstract or applied reasoning to process the materials. As Clay P. Bedford once said,"You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives."
Multiple Choice Questions
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- Children's reading program. (2007, September 20). Ring around the phonics. Retrieved September 28, 2006, from http://www.ringaroundthephonics.com/
- Cooperative learning and why use cooperative learning. (n.d.). Cooperative learning. Retrieved August 20, 2007, from http://edtech.kennesaw.edu/intech/cooperativelearning.htm#why
- Education. (2007). Quote world. Retrieved September 19, 2007, from http://www.quoteworld.org/categories/education
- Gardiner, L. F. (1998, Spring). The research evidence: why we must change. Thought and action.
- Goswami. (2001). Analogical reasoning in children. In D. Gentner, K. Holyoak, & B. Korkinov (Eds.), The analogical mind: Perspectives from cognitive science (p. 437–470). Cambridge, MA : MIT Press.
- How do we learn and remember. (2003, November). News and information (brain science). Retrieved September 20, 2007, from Brown University Web site: http://www.brainscience.brown.edu/research/6questions/how_do_we_learn.html
- Mundem, J. (2007). Social and Cultural Foundations of American Education, Second Ed. Retrieved September 17, 2007 from http://en.wiki/Social_and_Cultural_Foundations_of_American_Education/Second Edition/14.6.3
- Schultz, L. (n.d.). Educational curriculum instruction 304. In Blackboard (p3) pbl). Retrieved September 20, 2007, from Blackboard database: https://www.blackboard.odu.edu/
- Weatherholt, T. N., Harris, R. C., Barbara, B. M., & Clement, C. (2006). Analysis of attention. Applied and developmental psychology, 27(2), 125-135. Abstract retrieved January 27, 2006, from http://sciencedirect.com