What is wrong with our educational system. Many things, but high up on the list are people, in particular educators, who write such as what follows below about education. It is the tortured intellectual formulations of these people who would explain what learning is all about, rather than, say, an intimate knowledge of the real world of children, that drives, alas, too many educational reform efforts.
What happened to the belief that learning must be fun if it would take hold of the child and lead him into the world? Where is the fun in acquiring the “intellectual competence” of which the writer speaks?
Edmund Gordon on Intellectual Competence:
“The ability to use knowledge to engage and solve problems, not just acquire knowledge, is increasingly the currency of advanced societies. The goal should be to develop such abilities in a broader range of young people….
“I am more and more persuaded that the purpose of learning – and the teaching by which it is enabled – is to acquire knowledge and technique in the service of the development of adaptive human intellect. I see these as being at the core of intellective competence.
“What is intellective competence? I have come to use the term to refer to a characteristic way of adapting, appreciating, knowing, and understanding the phenomena of human experience. I also use the construct to reference the quality with which these mental processes are applied in one’s engagement with common, novel, and specialized problems. Intellective competence reflects one’s habits of mind, but it also reflects the quality or goodness of the products of mental functioning….
“Like social competence, which I feel is one manifestation of intellective competence, it reflects “goodness of fit,” or the effectiveness of the application of one’s affective, cognitive, and situative processes to solving the problems of living….
“The deliberative or affirmative development of academic ability should include more equitable access to such educational interventions as:
* Early, continuous, and progressively more rigorous exposure to joyful pre-academic and academic teaching and learning transactions.
* Rich opportunities to learn through pedagogical practices traditionally thought to be of excellent quality.
* Diagnostic, customized, and targeted assessment; instructional and remedial interventions.
* Academic acceleration and content enhancement.
* The use of relational data systems to inform educational policy and practice decisions.
• Explicit socialization of intellect to multiple cultural contexts.
“Important as these educational interventions are, the matter of personal agency may be even more so. It is possible that the attention we give to improving the quality of teaching and to broadening access to good teachers, while being necessary to the achievement of academic proficiency, may not be sufficient. Increased attention may need to be given to the learning domain of the “teaching and learning” dyad. Good teaching is necessary, but it may take appropriate student learning behaviors to achieve proficiency. In my thinking about learning behavior on the part of the student, I tend to privilege:
* Time on tasks related to what has to be learned.
* Deliberate deployment of energy and effort to those tasks.
* Seeking and utilizing necessary human and material resources.
• Personal efficacy – the belief that the learning goals and related tasks are worth the effort.”
The excerpts above were all taken from Edmund Gordon’s article, Intellectual Competence, appearing in VUE, no. 14, Winter, 2007. Edmund W. Gordon is the Richard March Hoe Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the John M. Musser Professor of Psychology Emeritus at Yale University.
Did you noticed his way of saying that we should pay more attention to the student, “Increased attention may need to be given to the learning domain of the ‘teaching and learning’ dyad.”
Teaching and learning dyad! Is this the way one writes when one is no longer teaching, no longer in the classroom with kids who are probably perfectly intellectually competent when they first arrive in school, but who “learn” that they are not competent and will remain that way, incompetent forever, unless they listen to their teacher.
When our leading educational figures write like this (in this instance he’s writing about the meaning of “proficiency for all”) we realize just how little chance there is of our kids in school ever becoming “proficient.”
But then, how “proficient” is the reader, such as myself, for whom Edmund Gordon’s words remain utterly opaque, mostly well beyond his/my comprehension.