Advocates of discovery, student-centered, project-based, experiential, etc learning when told such methods are not effective react in a predictable fashion. Namely, they claim that where such methods do not work, they have been implemented incorrectly.
I have likened this response to someone upon hearing that jumping out of an airplane without a parachute results in death saying “But if you do it the right way, you can survive.”
This seems to be what’s going on in the comment section of a Huffington Post article that is non-sympathetic to “experiential learning” or “minimally guided discovery learning” or whatever it happens to be called at the moment.
The project-based learning approach, while attractive to many in the education establishment is neither necessary or sufficient. Those defending the practice seem not to care what students who are pursuing a STEM degree in a good college do to succeed. Such students do not have time for those courses, and as a friend of mine repeatedly points out: “Colleges don’t care one way or the other.”
PBL is nothing new. Kids have been doing science projects in school for years, but it was always in addition to, rather than in place of “bottom up” learning in traditional classes. Instead of devoting such approaches to after-school, they now are increasingly using up valuable class time. This has had the unintended consequence of taking up more time than normal classes, thus eating into other options like music, art, and other subjects.
From the article:
“Unfortunately, minimal guidance advocates continue to believe that too much guidance will impair later performance. They believe that the best way to make learners remember new information is to allow them to construct their own learning as opposed to being provided with a lot of facts and being made to practice basic skills. The fact that cognitive science has proved these notions false has not yet caught up with most education leaders.”
From the comments:
“The best way to put something into long term memory is to work to find the answer. When you find the answer, put it to use. Information that is earned has greater value value than information that is given. Information that is used has greater value than information that is useless. Why would the brain not prioritize information that is of greater value? Also, by helping students find the answer, you are teaching them how to find their own answers.”
And from my friend Tara Houle:
“Multiple studies and evidence has indicated the single biggest issue in education today, is faulty pedagogy and following failed learning fads. It’s definitely NOT poverty, NOT racism, and definitely not due to “neoliberal conservatives”. Socioeconomic conditions have remained constant while student performance has gone down. And there should be NO excuse,based on your argument, while students in Vietnam and other countries outperformed Canadian students in basic math!”
And of course the sine qua non of comments on the internet:
“Tara Houle you are sadly misguided”
And so it goes.