Reading Reflection- Sept 17

3 Thing I Learned:

  1. Although I had heard the name Jean Piaget many times (my mother being a teacher), the work of Vygotsky was new to me and the theories of both men were new concepts. Learning the contrasting and complimenting views on development opened up new ideas for me, such as “do I know adults who haven’t made it to Piaget’s last stage of development?” and “what is the role of unschooling in Vygotsky’s theories if teachers and mentors are so critical to learning?” I enjoyed the textbook’s perspective that while the complex theories of both researchers differed, many aspects compliment each other, especially with Piaget learning from the work of Vygotsky.
  2. I had learned about the idea of “pruning” of neurons in a high school psychology class, learning more about the brain and the pathways created by children and adults was of interest. Through this, learning about brain research that studied poor versus excelling readers and enhancing teaching style to move poor readers to being good readers, through careful and repetitive practice shows that styles of teaching really do matter in the delivery of content. The textbook reminded me that reading is not an foreign task and not one that is automatically learned in development.
  3.  Lastly, while reading the text I was excited about the place for neurology in the classroom and then was shocked to learn about controversy surrounding brain based learning, despite it making sense to me. Brain based science can confirm a teaching practice, however rarely gives teachers new practices as neurologists rarely are active in classroom life and teachers rarely being high level scientists.

2 Connections I Made:

  1. An interesting connection I came to involved the idea of adults and children forming pathways at different speeds. As a musician studying to teach music, I so often hear “It’s too late for me to learn an instrument, I would have had to start while I was young” which is perfectly shown in the stereotype that string players would begin training at age 3, anything after that is too late. Early in the chapter we learn that while the brain adapts more quickly at a young age, the brain is plastic and new pathways can be formed in older age however it takes more effort to do so. The example of this I found interesting was the pruning of “r” and “l” difference from Japanese children, but the idea that adults could still be taught this concept through intense training.
  2. Since working at summer camp with children aging 5-17 I have been able to see Piaget’s theories in action. For example, our youngest campers often think that children with taller water bottles have more liquid than those with wider or children who are eating from bowls have received more food that those eating from plates. I have also seen children’s fascination with understanding they can belong to multiple categories, many children giving their “full address” on the opening night of camp to introduce themselves. It is also interesting to see these children place themselves in categories especially when outside of their normal home and school environments, many struggling with the idea that I live at camp during the summer and go home to go to school in the winter time.

1 Question I have:

  1. How much does education theory play a role in our future day to day lives as teachers and what strategies can be used knowing the brain function of the children we are teaching? How can we find the “magic middle” in order to best teach many students the same concept?

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