Essay About School As Learning Environment

With the coming of World War I, and the prospect of large numbers of men handling new equipment in foreign countries, Army testers redefined reading.

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To achieve this vision requires rethinking what is taught, how teachers teach, and how what students learn is assessed.

The remainder of this chapter is organized around Figure 6.1, which illustrates four perspectives on learning environments that seem particularly important given the principles of learning discussed in earlier chapters.

Currently, that kind of “extraction literacy,” revolutionary in 1914, looks meager.

Finding out who, what, when, where or how simply does not yield the inferences, questions, or ideas we now think of as defining full or “higher literacy.” The idea of a classroom where young women, poor and minority students, and learning disabled students read (not recite) and write about (not copy) Shakespeare or Steinbeck is a radical and hopeful departure from the long-running conception of literacy as serviceable skills for the many and generative, reflective reading and writing for the few (Wolf, 1988:1).

Doing history involves the construction and evaluation of historical documents (see, e.g., Wineberg, 1996).

Doing science includes such activities as testing theories Colonists were literate enough if they could sign their name, or even an X, on deeds.The emulation of factory efficiency fostered the development of standardized tests for measurement of the “product,” of clerical work by teachers to keep records of costs and progress (often at the expense of teaching), and of “management” of teaching by central district authorities who had little knowledge of educational practice or philosophy (Callahan, 1962).In short, the factory model affected the design of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in schools.Learning theory does not provide a simple recipe for designing effective learning environments; similarly, physics constrains but does not dictate how to build a bridge (e.g., Simon, 1969).Nevertheless, new developments in the science of learning raise important questions about the design of learning environments—questions that suggest the value of rethinking what is taught, how it is taught, and how it is assessed.When immigrants arrived in large numbers in the 1800s, educators urged schools to deliver “recitation literacy” to the foreign children who filled the schoolrooms.That literacy was the ability to hold a book and reel off memorized portions of basic American texts such as the opening paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, a part of the Gettysburg address, or some Bryant or Longfellow.School administrators were eager to make use of the “scientific” organization of factories to structure efficient classrooms.Children were regarded as raw materials to be efficiently processed by technical workers (the teachers) to reach the end product (Bennett and Le Compte, 1990; Callahan, 1962; Kliebard, 1975).After discussing changes in goals, we explore the design of learning environments from four perspectives that appear to be particularly important given current data about human learning, namely, the degree to which learning environments are learner centered, knowledge centered, assessment centered, and community centered.Later, we define these perspectives and explain how they relate to the preceding discussions in Chapters 1–4.


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