When Constructivism Hits the Road

   
   
   
   
   

I am Yama Ploskonka and I love Constructivism. I was in Teachers' College in Uruguay during the mid '80s, at the time when this was the latest buzzword in town. Nobody really knew what Constructivism meant, but it sounded good, empowering.

Twenty years later I was hard pressed to try to explain the concept to a teacher of English in Istanbul. Turns out that Ankara had ordered all of them to start using a constructivist point of view in everything, as of the next semester, and he had little idea on what it meant and how he was going to manage to stay out of trouble.

I really enjoy it mostly because its discourse embodies so many of the high double-speak that was part of my French Literature training. It's useless, but there's a je ne sais quoi that makes it sound quite enticing. Well handled, constructivism can seem to be All That Is Good, and those who oppose it made to look like the forces of darkness. The main problem with constructivism is that a child cannot just re-create civilization on his own.

olpc table users
Teachers are integral to success

Teachers are required

It is a basic law of nature that a huge portion of random changes will be for the bad, very few for the good. This becomes an exponential notion as the concept gains complexity. A child "learning" (sorry, "exploring") off an XO has as much practical chance to develop a coherent complex construct as the proverbial horde of monkeys writing Shakespeare. This is one of the reasons we have teachers.

Their duty is to teach, guide, orient, mentor, in short, to get the kid to do what he ought and stay away from what he should not mess with. The best teachers empower, actually care for each kid's individual giftings and figure out what is best for that kid to be doing at a given moment and stay away from snake oil and one-size-fits-all. It is very hard work, very satisfying, and all in all, very uncommon.

A teacher that would let kids lose to discover life on their own is in my book very irresponsible, even if the kids are under the guardianship of an XO. Yes, there are occasions when a kid would be better off away from some teachers, yet things are intrinsically flawed if the general expectation is that the kid will then be able to figure out civilization by himself. When we need something to actually happen, constructivism will not do.

When a task needs to be achieved by many unprepared people with an expectation of specific results and a timeline, then we need to revert to good 'ol training and instruction, because "exploring" won't get us anywhere. Close to all'uns heart, a most clear example of this we see during XO deployments. There we need teachers who will be able to use the green things to some profit, technicians that will keep information running, a highly rated expert in communications to do the two-step on a tin roof.

We cannot afford to go around "exploring". At the least it would take forever. When the rubber hits the road, we need things that work, techniques that give results, training that enables and builds skills and produces, people with knowledge to step in and transfer that knowledge to others by instructing them on what works and what doesn't.

olpc $100 laptop
Learning on the XO laptop

A One Laptop Per Child Challenge

I publicly challenge Nicholas Negroponte and OLPC to be consistent with their constructivistic ideology and rely on constructivism to do deployments to prove their idea breathes. Yes, to have otherwise innocent people rely on the XO to solve their real world problems and get things going through unhindered exploration, hopefully without starving or getting electric shocks.

OR, honestly admit that training and instruction have an important place in the OLPC future, not as a poor relatives, but actually like the way to provide results, and thus incorporate a training/instruction mindset as the backbone of the OLPC.

Who knows, that might be the one thing that will save the project. There is a future for constructivism and the OLPC, but that has to do with gifted students and playtime for the rest - an article on that soon.

Oh my, they already did try doing grownup things through constructivism, and that got us the G1G1... (OK, this last line I put just as a silly snide, but there's a bit of truth there.)

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29 Comments

Construtivism does not mean "laissez-faire". It does not mean student will be in their own.

From a teacher point of view teaching with constructivism required more time for lesson preparation.

If you consider the teaching of multiplication, you could do it two ways (I am oversimplifying to illustrate the example):
1. the easy way for teacher could be to start straight with the multiplication technic. It could produce interesting result as learner can stupidly repeat the learned technic and produce tangible score rate
2. the harder way (more preparation) for the teacher will be to first construct with the learners the multiplication technic, then continue as in 1. for training. Constructing the multiplication need to go through a well prepared scenario by the teacher, in this scenario, the learners will have time slot where they have to do inquiries on a very specific situation. But other slots will be reserved for common reflexion guided by the teachers.

There is no hazard there, only teaching art !

The important aspect about constructivism is that it requires very well trained teachers willing to give the best to student. This is probably where are the difficulties for the OLPC project.

I think you might ought to spend some time researching the effectiveness of constructivism.

First, I want to note that the OLPC project was constructionist, not constructivist.

That said, what you describe is much more like guided discovery learning, which has been shown to work well when done correctly.

Constructivism, on the other hand, simply does not work. There is a solid body of research to back this up.

Training and instruction are sort of antithetical to constructivism, and are much more compatible with guided discovery learning.

I would HIGHLY recommend that OLPCNEWS.com consider checking the sources of guest posts like these for accuracy. The opinions cast here are interesting, but indicate a mixed up view of learning. Remember, constructivism is not a learning theory, but rather a philosophy, and not one that Negroponte et al subscribe to.

Why would they switch now?

Chris

constructivism, constructionism and all "isms" have never been part of Negroponte's plan. He just used the empty words as props, to give people the idea that his project was about education and not hardware.

Proof?

1. Take the "constructivism" out and potential buyers get a simple laptop.

2. Keep the "constructivism" in and potential buyers get the same laptop.

There is no difference whatsoever. for the simple reason that the educational aspect of the XO has never existed.

The closest they have come is by extolling the virtues of "collaboration" through the much-touted, under-performing "mesh". If "collaboration" (a fancy term for kids establishing contact with each other) worked as promised by OLPC, AIM, Skype, Internet Messenger and all sort of "collaboration" methods (tht's really what the "mesh" amounts to) would have worked wonders for students in rich countries. By all accounts, the "collaboration" is no more than constant exchange of the trivial things that keep kids entertained: Mp3 files, videos, gossip, sexy conversations, pictures, jokes, etc.

Negroponte's mesh will just allow kids to do what kids naturally do. Nothing especial when it comes to education.

In short: the OLPC project is not about education. It's not about kids. It's about selling under-powered, cheap, dysfunctional computers to poor people who don't really need them.

The XO is pure snake-oil. And Negroponte is a sad salesman of broken dreams.

Very thoughtful article.

I really like your last line because it nicely sums up the hole in their thinking.

What I am missing in your post is what your view is about how to realistically improve education in the developing world.

What can be done for these children if more teachers are NOT possible?

Extensive retraining of all teachers is equally impossible.

My question is always: If you don't see progress through ICT, do you have an alternative?

I know you do care about these children, and have actually worked with them. So, what do you think?

Going beyond mere names (Constructivism vs Constructionism), can technology be used to improve education by way of peer tutoring and modern communication theory, locally generated material where central educational material is unavailable.

And, I cannot see how a Boston based US organization with 30 some people can be required to generate all the educational content that is needed in hundreds of languages and thousands of villages.

Winter

I was tempted to stop reading Yama's post at the first paragraph because I didn't think it could get better. Fortunately I resisted the urge and was rewarded with the second paragraph.

Paragraph three contains the nasty secret at the heart of constructivism - that it's appeals lies not in the superior results it produces in the education of children but in the sense of superior insight and purpose it engenders in its supporters.

Constructivism, indeed most of the numerous "isms" in education, are the salt in the baby food.

Baby food has more salt in it then is necessary for babies but without the additional salt the baby food tastes pretty lousy. To the adults who do the buying.

If selling baby food is your intent then appealing to the people who buy the baby food is a better strategy then trying to sell a superior product that the buyers find unpleasant. Similarly, kids, and even parents, don't buy educational technologies or methodologies at least in public education. If you want to "sell" constructivism you do it by appealing to the people who make, or influence, the buying decision and those aren't the kids.

The appeal, as Yama correctly notes, is to be in a position make "those who oppose it (made) to look like the forces of darkness".

More simply, it's an appeal to conceit. It provides acolytes with the dialectic that allows them to assume the moral/intellectual high ground while casting any opposition in the roll of moral and intellectually inferiority. If you want to be smart and hip sign up with constructivism. Or you can be a knuckle-dragging troglodyte. Your choice.

> I publicly challenge Nicholas Negroponte and OLPC to be consistent with their constructivistic ideology and rely on constructivism to do deployments to prove their idea breathes.

Easy there drama queen.

Dr. Negroponte doesn't have to give you the time of day any more then he has to provide a lick of proof that constructionism has any value. The sale's been made and the check cashed. He's jetted around the globe, hobnobbed with heads of state and added significantly to the Negroponte brand image. The recent announcement of changes in the management of OLPC I take to be an indication that Dr. Negroponte's easing out of the more demanding aspects of the organization now that it's clear he's not going to ride the XO like a surfboard on a self-generated wave of educational revolution.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

I'm getting tired of reading articles like this. Long on words and short on thought. Its one reason I don't comment very often. That and Irvin with his inane comments selling his own 'snake oil'.

Chris seems to have hit the nail on the head as Yama is getting her Constructivism and Constructionist thoughts mixed up. One is Theory, the other is practice.

As quoted from
http://www.exploratorium.edu/ifi/resources/research/constructivism.html

"Constructivism is an epistemology, a theory of knowledge used to explain how we know what we know. We believe that a constructivist epistemology is useful to teachers if used as a referent; that is, as a way to make sense of what they see, think, and do. Our research indicates that teachers' beliefs about how people learn (their personal epistemology), whether verbalized or not, often help them make sense of, and guide, their practice."

Constructionist learning is more like guided mentorism, whether through a teacher providing guidance or/with the use of tools like the XO laptop.

This quote from http://wik.ed.uiuc.edu/index.php/Constructionist_teaching

"In a Constructivist Classroom... (Brooks and Brooks 1993)
* Student autonomy and initiative are accepted and encouraged.
* The teacher asks open-ended questions and allows wait time for responses.
* Higher level thinking is encouraged.
* Students are engaged in dialogue with the teacher and with each other.
* Students are engaged in experiences that challenge hypotheses and encourage discussion.
* The class uses raw data, primary sources, manipulatives, physical, and interactive materials."

So much for the theory.
What about practice?
Thats where the XO comes in. Its a tool to put into practice all the THEORY of constructivism. It is not Constructivism itself.

So a person using an XO is performing to constructionist guidelines.

I was lucky. I went to a school where Constructivism was encouraged and many of the (better) teachers would put it into practice.

My Physics teacher made us think, and do, and experiment. He didn't just teach us from the book. He mentored us and helped us learn to question physics. That was the epitome of Constructionist learning.

Since the arrival of the Internet never before has mankind had such easy access to information. Google gives us an index to the World. As a child growing up my access to information was limited to visiting the local library and borrowing books on subjects I liked.

Surely giving children access to the Internet and World Knowledge can only help them.

@ all
I apologize for not getting into the conversation earlier - very busy day, with new job Monday, etc.
I also regret my take on constructivism instead of constructionism. Neither one of these words checks OK in my spellchecker (neither does 'spellchecker', now that I notice :-). I got confused because I had actually never come across constructionism, or noticed it as a different word until yesterday browsing an OLPC official pronunciamiento, after my article had been submitted. I am grateful to Chris, and especially Robert, for pointing out to me not only the error in the term I employed, but also that there is actually more than a spelling difference. I will follow up on his links to try to learn something more about nuances and actual use in the real world.
Yet, with apologies to both, for I currently agree with the spellchecker and consider both terms rather empty of meaning, let me answer Winter in more detail, for he offers me a way to 'construct'

@Winter
'What I am missing in your post is what your view is about how to realistically improve education in the developing world.'

This is a biggie, Winter, and one that I hope I will be answering in detail in further posts. OLPC and the XO are not wrong in themselves. Negroponte is not that bad. He got us moving, he got us to some extent thinking and maybe even collaborating (I'm in a couple OLPC developer lists besides assorted FOSS ones), and what remains to be done is to improve the product and what is offered to kids and families. There is a chance this constructiONism thing is the great solution. There are many more chances it is not. I believe in training. I believe in instruction. Those have a proven track record. People who can split hairs between the ON and V know what these mean as educational methods. I assume that by ICT you mean Information and Communications Technology. I do see great future in education using it. Training using ICT. Instruction using ICT. In Math, English and Science, as this article indicates that is what parents desire http://www.olpcnews.com/countries/nepal/olpc_a_wild_ride_in_nepal.html
I do not see OLPC having the only option. As to me, the work I am developing is to run on a browser, so as to be as much as possible platform independent. I want OLPC to succeed. I do not see it happening as long as it is mostly content free and designed as such. I am happy that many are coming in to fill that gap, to develop content, which by definition will have an instructi-vist approach. Maybe it was NN's wisdom that a constructionism agenda was the basis to garner support for OLPC among people whose priorities are not the ones the rest of the world has, and that got us moving, hopefully where we eventually need to get.
@ Chris
In a certain way, I am glad I was confused, Chris, and that Wayan did not "correct" me. I have learned a lot about communication when I read and hear others misunderstand things, like the parliamentarian who believes the XO doesn't need electricity. Maybe another brilliant OLPC thing was to take on this less known -ism as its flag / ideology - then it can have any meaning they want to give it!

@Winter and Yama.
'What I am missing in your post is what your view is about how to realistically improve education in the developing world.'

Why center on the developing world? Whats wrong with education in general? Why do we still use 19th century teaching methods?

1. Change the testing system.
Get rid of the 'teach to pass tests' system that most education systems subscribe to. Testing should be based around problem solving not the ability to remember facts. Testing also involves Essay writing and multi choice answers. A student should be measured by their progress over a period of time, not base 50% of their test score on 'final exam' systems. Set short terms goals and measure improvements accurately. This eliminates any possibility of cheating the system.

2. Teach the parents.
The most important time for young people is in the early stages of development. This is a task for parents as well, not just teachers. Educate parents too. By the time a teacher starts with children it may already be too late.

3. Teach the teachers.
I agree we need to teach the teachers. Thats a given. There are far too many poorly trained teachers in the world.

4. Change the classroom.
In the classroom (Re-read my earlier post):
* Student autonomy and initiative are accepted and encouraged.
* The teacher asks open-ended questions and allows wait time for responses.
* Higher level thinking is encouraged.
* Students are engaged in dialogue with the teacher and with each other.
* Students are engaged in experiences that challenge hypotheses and encourage discussion.
* The class uses raw data, primary sources, manipulatives, physical, and interactive materials.

5. Use the XO laptop.
These points can be put into practice easily.
A class plan can be centered around these initiatives and (if required) put into motion with the XO as the 'interactive material'.

Its not rocket science...

Thanks for this. Personally, I think it would have been more honest for them to latch on to Ivan Illich and his concept of learning networks, but that's just me.

Constructionism is one of many educational theories, including the standard model that has dominated in developed countries -- students sitting at desks listening to a teacher lecture, doing assignments individually, and so on. One reason there are so many different educational theories is that there has been great disagreement concerning the nature of the learning process. This was because much of what occurs in learning is not obvious, and there was no adequate scientific understanding of learning.

In recent decades, however, there has been a great deal of research, and much has been learned that is relevant to education. In particular, several of the assumptions about human learning that grounded the standard approach have been found to be wrong.

One assumption of the standard education theory is that students learn little before they come to school because they do not receive formal instruction. Actually, it has been found that young children learn an enormous amount. For instance, a few decades ago computer technologists decided to try to teach computers to understand ordinary language. It was thought this would be fairly easy, but turned out to be enormously difficult. Children, on the other hand, without any formal instruction learn within a few years after birth to speak and understand language far better than any computer can. Something similar is true for general behavior. Despite enormous investment, no robot produced at present can behave as intelligently and effectively as an average four year old.

What this indicates is that children have enormous natural abilities to learn (a wonderful summary of natural learning in children is found in the New York Times bestselling book, The Scientist in the Crib). And this learning is spontaneous. The standard model assumes that children have little interest in learning, and so must be motivated by extrensic factors, such as praise and condemnation, grades, and so on. What research has found is that children are actually enormously curious, and have strong desires to improve their understanding and various abilities.

The standard model is mistaken on another assumption. It assumes that learning best takes place individually. However, research finds that much learning works best when children work together, as they naturally do before they start school. Finally, it has been found that a large and essential part of what makes natural childhood learning so effective is that children learn to a extent, not through passive absorption of knowledge that is presented through them, but through an active process of building, experimenting, trying out hypotheses, and putting different facts together.

One of the pioneers of the study of learning is Jean Piaget, one of the 20th centuries major scientific geniuses. Papert was a student of Piaget and developed constructionist education on the basis of the discoveries of Piaget and other researchers. Constructionist education is designed to take advantage of children's natural learning abilities and motivation, of the natural sociality of their learning, and the effeciveness of active as opposed to passive education processes. As some have indicated above, the teacher is an active participant in this process. It is quite different from constructivism, a metaphysical theory that claims there is no reality out there and our conceptions of it are entirely due to arbitrary, oppressive social structures. Constructionism instead assumes there is a reality, but differs from the standard education approach concerning how children can most effectively learn about it.

Constructionism is relevant to education anywere, but especially in the developing world. That is because there is a huge deficiency of teachers there, and no prospects this can be remediated in the foreseeable future. That being the case, the only solution would seem to be to take advantage of the natural learning abilities of children that have so far far been unused, so that children can learn academic subject to at least a minimal level with much less input needed from teachers. That is not ideal, but is is definitely superior to all other practical alternatives.

"Testing should be based around problem solving not the ability to remember facts."

Why don't we think it's important for us to actually have information in our heads??? Maybe not *just* the ability to remember facts but it's insane how much we disregard memory.

Hi Patrick,

I don't think that it's that memory isn't considered important, it's just that comprehension is more important (and useful) than simply being able to recall facts and, given that time is limited, it is best to concentrate on understanding things.

The ability to recall facts is a natural result of using them - if you happen to be doing a lot of Physics then you tend to remember a lot of fundamental constants, if you are doing a lot of coding your head fills up with useful classes. That's fine, but in my experience trying to remember such facts in the abstract is a complete waste of time - not only are they dull without a context but they don't tent stick in the mind for long if you don't use them.

All the ridiculous cries asking for a "change" in education are based on a false premise: that the tried and true methods are bad and that their wonderful "ideas" (tried and untrue) will provide a solution.

The simple fact is that the "bad" education methodology that all these people criticize is good enough to produce the leaders of every civilized nation in the world. "Constructivism', "constructionism' and all other "revolutions" have not produced any consistent results anywhere in the world. Yes, they can work in very specialized and specific circumstances, but they are not a solution where poverty is the rule.

Poor nations are best served by emulating the "broken" systems in place all over the leading nations of the world: USA, Japan, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden, England, etc.

If alternative methods are so wonderful, how come the "smart" people in the rich countries don't use them for their own children?

The answer is simple: the current system WORKS (it is not perfect, but it works very well) and none of the alternatives has proven clearly equal or superior under the same working conditions. It is as simple as that.

Ivin: "Poor nations are best served by emulating the "broken" systems in place all over the leading nations of the world: USA, Japan, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden, England, etc."

Poor nations all around the world have known about the current system for many decades, yet have failed to successfully emulate it. If you think that it can be successfuly implimented in such countries, you need to explain:

1) why there has been so much failure so far.

2) what new approach yto implimenting the current system you invision that would work, and why it would work.

Note there are two sorts of problems involved here, namely material and political. On the material side there are such problems as insufficient governmental income to pay for adequate education, lack of electricity for schools, and so on. On the political side is the problem of getting the governmental leaders to allocate the funds, to spend them efficiently, and to not funnel much of the money to their own pockets. So whatever plan you have come has to solve all these problems.

Irvin, I suspect you don't have a plan that would overcome all these problems. However, I would be quite delighted if you did have such a plan.

Eduardo Montez wrote:

"Poor nations all around the world have known about the current system for many decades, yet have failed to successfully emulate it. If you think that it can be successfuly implimented in such countries, you need to explain:

1) why there has been so much failure so far.

2) what new approach yto implimenting the current system you invision that would work, and why it would work."


The answers, once again, are very simple. I'll deal with yuor questions one by one.

"1. why there has been so much failure so far."

You provided the answer to yuor own question. I'll cite you:

[there are two sorts of problems involved here, namely material and political. On the material side there are such problems as insufficient governmental income to pay for adequate education, lack of electricity for schools, and so on. On the political side is the problem of getting the governmental leaders to allocate the funds, to spend them efficiently, and to not funnel much of the money to their own pockets]

As you can see, none of the problems has anything to do with the current education system. Any poor nation would be lucky to have the "broken" system of ANY industrialized nation.

"2) what new approach yto implimenting the current system you invision that would work, and why it would work."

Once again, i'll use your own words to provide the answer:

Governments should spend the maximum possible amount of money to build, repair and maintain school buildings; to pay for properly trained teachers and to make sure thst a minimum of school supplies are available.

To think that the terrible problems you rightfully denounce are going to be eliminated (or even diminished) by giving elementary-school children a laptop is utterly insane. Mere possession of a laptop (XO, Intel, Asus or otherwise) does not an education make.

In any case, I'm glad you (unintentionally) support my point: the problems are not with the education methodology. That's all I said in my post.

Irvin,

You are misrepresenting me on at least one point. I never said the standard model is broken as such, only that 1) constructivism works better. 2) it works terribly in the developing world.

However, I see I misunderstood your position. When you said, "Poor nations are best served by emulating the "broken" systems in place all over the leading nations of the world: USA, Japan, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden, England, etc." I thought you meant that they could do so successfully. Your later post makes it clear that you agree with me that this course of action can't succeed.

That being the case, shouldn't people try to find alternative paths, in hope that one might be developed that actually would work better for the developing world? Or is it your position that, if the standard model can't work in the developing world, then we can be absolutely certain that no one, anywhere in the world, could ever think of an approach that would work significantly better for the developing world?

"is it your position that, if the standard model can't work in the developing world, then we can be absolutely certain that no one, anywhere in the world, could ever think of an approach that would work significantly better for the developing world? "

The education system used by every nation in the world (the one based on schools and teachers) doesn't need fixing. It produces all the great minds we know.

What needs fixing is the reasons for the system not being IN PLACE in certain parts of the world.

Once again, the solution is simple: bring teachers and schools to any place where they are lacking/needed and the problem is fixed. If there is money left, you can spend it on any ideas you might have. That's what the rich guys have done and that's the ONLY proven method of educating large numbers of people.

Giving laptops to kids in need of an education instead of schools and teachers is bizarre, to say the least.

You still are not seeing the big picture Irvin.
"Once again, the solution is simple: bring teachers and schools to any place where they are lacking/needed and the problem is fixed".

Talk about over-simplification.

It takes far more resources to 'bring in' teachers than it does to deploy laptops.
It takes far longer to train teachers than deploy laptops.
Quality teachers are rare. Negropontes idea was to supplement or even replace manpower with technology. Replacing antiquated teaching methods with hi-yield education formats. Rote learning with Constructionist principles.

I challenge you to pick any country in the Third World, get a rough estimate of the number of school age children, calculate how many teachers are needed, put those teachers through training courses, pay their wages and give me an estimate of cost and time.

Maybe then you'll be more about facts than selling your own brand of snake oil.

irvin, I am puzzled by your response. You agree there is no chance the standard model will be implimented in the developing world, and you give no reasons why an alternative model might not work, but you still insist that we should not try to find alternative models that might work. Huh?

@Robert Arrowsmith:
"I challenge you to pick any country in the Third World, get a rough estimate of the number of school age children, calculate how many teachers are needed, put those teachers through training courses, pay their wages and give me an estimate of cost and time."

Allready done for the whole of the developping world:
http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/education/olpc_xo_improve_teachers.html

Around 900 million children in the world lack adequate teachers.
Ideally, there should be 1 teacher for at most 30 pupils.
900 million children need 30 million teachers.
Even a (small) shortage of, eg, 10%, means the world needs 3 million new teachers.

Actually, Irvin has never shown any interest in the education of these children, or their well being. He seems to hate Negroponte and everything he touches. The OLPC is therefore included for no other reason. Besides, he seems to like to troll ("Ein Geist der verneint").

Winter

Robert Arrowsmith wrote:

["You still are not seeing the big picture Irvin."]

Perhaps because the "big picture" you allude to is empty?

["Once again, the solution is simple: bring teachers and schools to any place where they are lacking/needed and the problem is fixed".

Talk about over-simplification.]

Oversimplication? Don't make me laugh. Oversimplification is pretending that mere posession of a laptop equals a formal education.

[It takes far more resources to 'bring in' teachers than it does to deploy laptops.
It takes far longer to train teachers than deploy laptops. ]

Sure. Because teachers and training teachers is far more complex (and productive) than just handing out laptops hoping for a miracle.


[Quality teachers are rare. Negropontes idea was to supplement or even replace manpower with technology.]

Quality teachers are not rare. And Negroponte's idea is utterly insane. So much so, that he has abandoned it by now, and these days he talks about "empowering teachers". Only his followers are still deluded into thinking that education can take place without teachers. It's time to face reality.

[Replacing antiquated teaching methods with hi-yield education formats. Rote learning with Constructionist principles.]

translation: Replace a system that has worked everywhere in the world with unproven techno-dreams. Experiment with the poor.

As always, I must remind you that the "advanced" minds in rich countries, where apparently corruption or money are not a problem, have not yet replaced teachers and traditional teaching method with any of your proposed "revolutionary methods". Why? Because they are not stupid. they know it is all fluff and no substance.

How come your "ideas" don't have widespread support in the "civilized world"? Because they are insane. As simple as that.

Pretending that a laptop alone can provide kids with an education in the absence of teachers is moronic at best.

Robert Arrowsmith wrote:

> Negropontes idea was to supplement or even replace manpower with technology.

Oh yeah? I know that was the implication of the OLPC but I'd be interested to know where Dr. Negroponte was reckless enough to actually state it in fairly unambiguous terms.

> Replacing antiquated teaching methods with hi-yield education formats.

Some examples would be helpful. Alternatively, Dr. Negroponte's dismissal of pilot programs may be due to his realization that snake-oil doesn't do well in a double-blind test.

> Rote learning with Constructionist principles.

Some examples would be....oh, never mind.

@allen:
"> Negropontes idea was to supplement or even replace manpower with technology.

Oh yeah? I know that was the implication of the OLPC but I'd be interested to know where Dr. Negroponte was reckless enough to actually state it in fairly unambiguous terms."

This was official policy (the augmented part).

Please read Ivan's talk:
http://www.olpctalks.com/ivan_krsti/ivan_krstic_at_google.html

And some more discussions on OLPCnews:
http://www.olpctalks.com/ivan_krsti/ivan_krstic_open_source_summit.html
http://www.olpcnews.com/use_cases/education/olpc_xo_improve_teachers.html

Winter

"> Replacing antiquated teaching methods with hi-yield education formats.

Some examples would be helpful. Alternatively, Dr. Negroponte's dismissal of pilot programs may be due to his realization that snake-oil doesn't do well in a double-blind test."

You might find this article a good example of 'Hi-Yield' education.
Just by introducing technology and advanced concepts into current learning systems improves the yield.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080324125154.htm

robert wrote:

"You might find this article a good example of 'Hi-Yield' education.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080324125154.htm"


It's a real pity that the XO doesn't have the power to run the Microsoft Powerpoint Slideshow and Flash presentations that are at the core of this "High-Yield" new technology!

"McFarlin's traditional kinesiology class met twice a week for a 90-minute lecture in a large auditorium. He used Microsoft PowerPoint slides with Flash media to present course material."

:-)


I wonder what Mr Arrowsmith & Other Apologists would think of the "Hi-Yield" system had it been part of the Classmate's "education revolution".

These guys are truly pathetic...

Winter, that's Ivan's take on the OLPC and even though it isn't Dr. Negroponte there's still precious little about the impact of the OLPC on the teacher population.

Do the thought experiment.

What's the response of the average education ministry head to the exciting prospect of substantially reducing the agency's head count? Don't project your assumptions and what you'd do were you the head of the agency but what the average education minister, the type of person you've disparaged for ineptitude and cynicism, would do.

Actually, you don't have to do the experiment. It's already been done.

Robert Arrowsmith wrote:

> You might find this article a good example of 'Hi-Yield' education.

Sorry Robert, I don't although I've seen its like numerous times. Not untypical of what's presented as research by education departments; ridiculous sample sizes, no effort made to control for bias or population, metrics of dubious validity and the involvement of interested parties, i.e. Articulate Global, Inc. and OddCast of New York.

There's more but why bother since this is hardly applicable to the situation at which the OLPC is supposed to be aimed: poor kids in poor countries.

@allen:
"Winter, that's Ivan's take on the OLPC and even though it isn't Dr. Negroponte there's still precious little about the impact of the OLPC on the teacher population."

No, this was about the fact that there was no known way to increase the teacher population. A "substitute" has to be found if improvement was needed.

And politicians would have reduced the number of teachers if they could. However, in most developing countries, the populace does not like cutbacks on education. Because that affects them directly.

Rob

> And politicians would have reduced the number of teachers if they could.

Oh? Why would that be? Because of the deep sense of fiscal responsibility that most politicians display?

Even if you could substitute XOs for teachers - and where's the evidence for that please? - why would most education bureaucracies do such a thing? After all, it's the size of the budget that's the measure of success and there's no surer way to increase budget then to increase the number of personnel in your department.

> However, in most developing countries, the populace does not like cutbacks on education. Because that affects them directly.

In most developing countries, at least the ones that have had some in-depth analysis, the populace doesn't wait around for the government to cutback or increase spending. They go out and find someone to educate their kids at a price they can afford:

http://www.ncl.ac.uk/egwest/tooley.html

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