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Berkeley and MIT: U.S. overeducates preschoolers

 
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:19 am    Post subject: Berkeley and MIT: U.S. overeducates preschoolers Reply with quote

Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School
New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire.
By Alison Gopnik Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011, at 2:15 PM ET
Quote:
Ours is an age of pedagogy. Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they're reading books to babies in the womb. They pressure teachers to make kindergartens and nurseries more like schools. So does the law—the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act explicitly urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.

There are skeptics, of course, including some parents, many preschool teachers, and even a few policy-makers. Shouldn't very young children be allowed to explore, inquire, play, and discover, they ask? Perhaps direct instruction can help children learn specific facts and skills, but what about curiosity and creativity—abilities that are even more important for learning in the long run? Two forthcoming studies in the journal Cognition—one from a lab at MIT and one from my lab at UC-Berkeley—suggest that the doubters are on to something. While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution.

What do we already know about how teaching affects learning? Not as much as we would like, unfortunately, because it is a very difficult thing to study. You might try to compare different kinds of schools. But the children and the teachers at a Marin County preschool that encourages exploration will be very different from the children and teachers in a direct instruction program in South Side Chicago. And almost any new program with enthusiastic teachers will have good effects, at least to begin with, regardless of content. So comparisons are difficult. Besides, how do you measure learning, anyway? Almost by definition, directed teaching will make children do better on standardized tests, which the government uses to evaluate school performance. Curiosity and creativity are harder to measure.

Developmental scientists like me explore the basic science of learning by designing controlled experiments. We might start by saying: Suppose we gave a group of 4-year-olds exactly the same problems and only varied on whether we taught them directly or encouraged them to figure it out for themselves? Would they learn different things and develop different solutions? The two new studies in Cognition are the first to systematically show that they would.

In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: "I just found this toy!" As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised ("Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!") and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, "I'm going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!" and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy.

All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. The question was whether they would also learn about the other things the toy could do. The children from the first group played with the toy longer and discovered more of its "hidden" features than those in the second group. In other words, direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.


Full Story: http://www.slate.com/id/2288402/

Considering the state of education in the US this needs it's own thread.
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Thy Brilliance



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:25 am    Post subject: BUT THE FOOD WILL NEVER COME, WILL IT FATHER?!?!? Reply with quote

Darqcyde wrote:
Why Preschool Shouldn't Be Like School
New research shows that teaching kids more and more, at ever-younger ages, may backfire.
By Alison Gopnik Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2011, at 2:15 PM ET
Quote:
Ours is an age of pedagogy. Anxious parents instruct their children more and more, at younger and younger ages, until they're reading books to babies in the womb. They pressure teachers to make kindergartens and nurseries more like schools. So does the law—the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act explicitly urged more direct instruction in federally funded preschools.

There are skeptics, of course, including some parents, many preschool teachers, and even a few policy-makers. Shouldn't very young children be allowed to explore, inquire, play, and discover, they ask? Perhaps direct instruction can help children learn specific facts and skills, but what about curiosity and creativity—abilities that are even more important for learning in the long run? Two forthcoming studies in the journal Cognition—one from a lab at MIT and one from my lab at UC-Berkeley—suggest that the doubters are on to something. While learning from a teacher may help children get to a specific answer more quickly, it also makes them less likely to discover new information about a problem and to create a new and unexpected solution.

What do we already know about how teaching affects learning? Not as much as we would like, unfortunately, because it is a very difficult thing to study. You might try to compare different kinds of schools. But the children and the teachers at a Marin County preschool that encourages exploration will be very different from the children and teachers in a direct instruction program in South Side Chicago. And almost any new program with enthusiastic teachers will have good effects, at least to begin with, regardless of content. So comparisons are difficult. Besides, how do you measure learning, anyway? Almost by definition, directed teaching will make children do better on standardized tests, which the government uses to evaluate school performance. Curiosity and creativity are harder to measure.

Developmental scientists like me explore the basic science of learning by designing controlled experiments. We might start by saying: Suppose we gave a group of 4-year-olds exactly the same problems and only varied on whether we taught them directly or encouraged them to figure it out for themselves? Would they learn different things and develop different solutions? The two new studies in Cognition are the first to systematically show that they would.

In the first study, MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues looked at how 4-year-olds learned about a new toy with four tubes. Each tube could do something interesting: If you pulled on one tube it squeaked, if you looked inside another tube you found a hidden mirror, and so on. For one group of children, the experimenter said: "I just found this toy!" As she brought out the toy, she pulled the first tube, as if by accident, and it squeaked. She acted surprised ("Huh! Did you see that? Let me try to do that!") and pulled the tube again to make it squeak a second time. With the other children, the experimenter acted more like a teacher. She said, "I'm going to show you how my toy works. Watch this!" and deliberately made the tube squeak. Then she left both groups of children alone to play with the toy.

All of the children pulled the first tube to make it squeak. The question was whether they would also learn about the other things the toy could do. The children from the first group played with the toy longer and discovered more of its "hidden" features than those in the second group. In other words, direct instruction made the children less curious and less likely to discover new information.


Full Story: http://www.slate.com/id/2288402/

Considering the state of education in the US this needs it's own thread.


Put one 4-year old in isolation with the toy.

He'll figure it out in 5 minutes and start crying for food.
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife sent that article around, or maybe she linked it on Facebook. It really captures a bit of what we were looking for in schools for our kid, a notion usually summed up as a "progressive" school.

Perhaps the drill is all about the fear. Consider the reaction to the Tiger Mother. It makes some sort of logic, if a bit simplified, that the earlier you start, the more you can drill into kids. Ignore the fact that it's deadly to a kid's natural sense of wonder and discovery. We gotta compete in a global economy, you know, get those STEM skills rolling. Kids can play on the weekends, if they've got a little down time after their homework is done.

I suspect that an attitude of being eager to learn while not knowing a ton to begin with will trump having a pile of facts learned by rote at your fingertips and being burned out on school when entering the upper grades.
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CTrees



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

China.

That is all.
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Guest



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 2:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm reminded of this, a comparison of the UK/US and Swedish preschool. Whether this approach allows our children to discover and become more creative, or whether it allows children to be children, is debatable but it seems to be working.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part the issue is that Ludology is treated as a part of game studies: it's not, it's the study of playing. Playing is to Games as Mores are to Laws.

To put it bluntly: We NEED adequate play activities to develop properly as highly intelligent and naturally curious social creatures.

Here's a TED video I've seen before that expounds upon play activities and creativity, FYI he's one of the guys that created the Dark Sun campaign setting.
http://www.ted.com/talks/tim_brown_on_creativity_and_play.html
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eureka00



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I taught preschool for 4 years in a play based program and the state mandated a play based program. This has always been the best way for children to learn, imo, but I guess since there was just a new study done about it it's news. Hell, the High Scope approach has been around since the 1960s. My preschool program used High Scope for several years but switched to Creative Curriculum a year after I started. I'm surprised they were even able to find a direct instruction program for this article. Just so you know how hardcore my programs were, copy machines were banned and no TV of course. No copy machines meant no worksheets, coloring pages, etc. Taking that away alone allowed the kids to have to think outside the box a lot.

Quote:
Effectiveness of the program
The HighScope Perry Preschool Project was evaluated in a randomized controlled trial of 123 children (58 were randomly assigned to a treatment group that received the program and a control group of 65 children that did not). Prior to the program, the preschool and control groups were equivalent in measures of intellectual performance and demographic characteristics. After the program the educational and life outcomes for the children receiving the program were much superior to outcomes for the children not receiving the program. The effects were significant.[3]
Educational outcomes for preschool group (versus control group):
At age 27 follow-up
Completed an average of almost 1 full year more of schooling (11.9 years vs. 11 years)
Spent an average of 1.3 fewer years in special education services — e.g., for mental, emotional, speech, or learning impairment (3.9 years vs. 5.2 years)
44 percent higher high school graduation rate (66% vs. 45%)
Pregnancy outcomes for preschool group (versus control group):
At age 27 follow-up
Much lower proportion of out-of-wedlock births (57% vs. 83%)
Fewer teen pregnancies on average (0.6 pregnancies/woman vs. 1.2 pregnancies/woman)
Lifetime criminal activity for preschool group (versus control group):
At age 40 follow-up
46 percent less likely to have served time in jail or prison (28% vs. 52%)
33 percent lower arrest rate for violent crimes (32% vs. 48%)
Economic outcomes for preschool group (versus control group):
At age 40 follow-up
42 percent higher median monthly income ($1,856 vs. $1,308)
26 percent less likely to have received government assistance (e.g. welfare, food stamps) in the past ten years (59% vs. 80%)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HighScope
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picturesofsky



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CTrees wrote:
China.

That is all.


As if there could be any less point to your presence here, this post confirms it.

What about China?
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Mizike



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

CTrees wrote:
China.

That is all.


You're concerned about the rampant fraud and plagiarism among Chinese academia and warning the US not to follow a similar path? Good for you!
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Snorri



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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 11:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

picturesofsky wrote:
CTrees wrote:
China.

That is all.


As if there could be any less point to your presence here, this post confirms it.

What about China?


man I usually just expect that to end any discussion no matter what it's about.


Racism? China. That is all.

U.S. Politics? China. That is all.

How to potty train your child? China. That is all.

Superman vs Batman? China. That is all.

Youtube comments? China. That is all.
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Yorick



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 3:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forget it, Jake. It's China.
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Dogen



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think I saw that on an episode of Star Trek (the original series, naturally). They were all like, "Who are these weird aliens hat are infecting our brains?" and then Bones McCoy was like, "Dammit, Jim! China!" and then injected everyone with a pixie stick and they got better.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dogen wrote:
I think I saw that on an episode of Star Trek (the original series, naturally). They were all like, "Who are these weird aliens hat are infecting our brains?" and then Bones McCoy was like, "Dammit, Jim! China!" and then injected everyone with a pixie stick and they got better.


Wait is that the one where it's basically Yangs (Yankees) vs the Comms (Commies) and where the preamble to the constitution is a holy document?

If so it's this episode http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Omega_Glory
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Sam



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yorick wrote:
Forget it, Jake. It's China.


shut the fuck up, China. You're out of your element.
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Usagi Miyamoto



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PostPosted: Tue Mar 29, 2011 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...friggin' rare earth metals...
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