kitchen table math, the sequel: trouble in Norway, part 2

Sunday, March 4, 2007

trouble in Norway, part 2

The TIMSS Norway report (pdf file), showing severe decline in Norwegian students' performance in math and science after Norway adopted sweeping constructivist reforms in 1997, makes explicit the connection between construcitivsm and "taking responsibility for one's own learning":

The new pupil role poses greater demands upon the pupils’ self regulation of learning. The results from PISA showed a relatively stronger connection between the degree of self regulation and one’s performance in mathematics in Norway than compared to other countries. In schools where this is, to a greater degree, left to the pupils own initiative, it is not a surprise to find such a connection. In TIMSS 2003 we have seen weak tendencies towards a stronger connection between pupils’ background and their performance in school as compared to 1995. The project based work and responsibility for their own learning can favor the pupils that have more attention from their parents. Possibly, parents with a higher education are more able to support their children in school. [ed.: what does it look like when parents with higher education "support" their children in school? would that be similar to parents reteaching content and hiring tutors?]

Our middle school is rife with talk of students "taking responsibility for their own learning" or, alternatively, "taking ownership of their own learning." We have math teachers who actually tell parents that their goal is to get 6th graders to "take ownership of their own learning."

I hadn't realized this notion was part and parcel of constructivism.

The result of an educational philosophy that relies upon 12 year olds taking responsibility for their own learning is predictable. Your basic twelve year old can't take responsibility for his own learning. That's why we have schools run by adults.

If a twelve year old can't take responsibility for his own learning, and the school won't take responsibility, that job falls to the parent.

Some parents -- college-educated parents living in two-parent families primarily -- are better-equipped to handle this job than others.

3 comments:

BeckyC said...

The project based work and responsibility for their own learning can favor the pupils that have more attention from their parents. Possibly, parents with a higher education are more able to support their children in school.

There's that weasel word, support.

The language of teaching and learning has been stretched so completely out of shape that we cannot imagine reading the sentence "Parents with a higher education are more able to teach their own children."

How pathetically quaint is the old progressivist war cry, "I don't teach subjects; I teach children."

My God! "TEACH" used as a transitive verb! With a child as the object! The horror!

Catherine Johnson said...

There's that weasel word, support.

yup

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